Big Game Hunting Allowed Within Earshot of Castle Pines
Unaware of the dangers around them… residents in the Castle Pines community may be at risk if hunting on an 88-acre parcel of land adjacent to Castle Pines Village and I-25 is allowed to continue. The Castle Pines Homes Association filed for – and was granted – a temporary injunction to prevent hunting on the property. (photo by Tim Gamble)
by Terri Wiebold
In the coming months, the fate of rifle hunting for big game, including deer and elk, within the Castle Pines community will be determined. An approximately 88-acre area of privately owned property is the focus of a court case currently under consideration in the Douglas County District Court, and it has drawn the attention of the Colorado Attorney General.
The collective 13 parcels of land are nestled in the Castle Pines community, bordering I-25 to the east, Happy Canyon Road to the south, and Castle Pines Village to the west alongside Country Club Drive. Due north lies approximately 343 acres that are contiguous with the southern boundary of the Lagae Ranch in the City of Castle Pines North (see map page 3.) At its widest point, the property in question is less than one half mile across, east to west, and is slightly more than one half mile north to south.
Unbeknownst to many in the Castle Pines Village and Castle Pines North communities, big game rifle hunting of elk and deer was permitted on the property until only a few months ago, when the Douglas County District Court granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting hunting on the property.
Castle Pines Homes Association seeks injunction
On December 8, 2008, the Castle Pines Homes Association, Inc. (Village HA) filed a complaint in Douglas County District Court seeking the injunction to prevent hunting on the land, citing “substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death that results from hunting in such close proximity to population centers like Castle Pines Village and to heavily traveled highways like I-25.”
Village HA Board of Director’s member, Ed Will, contends that this is not a hunting issue but a public safety issue. “It is our goal to make sure that hunting will never occur on that property again, due to the close proximity to our homes and our community,” said Will. “This is a matter of public safety and we have an obligation to protect our residents.”
According to Will, an incident occurred in late November of last year that brought the severity of the matter to the attention of the Village HA and the Castle Pines Metropolitan District (Metro District), who’s property abuts the west boundary of the property in question.
Metro District Manager Paul Dannels recounted that on November 25, 2008, employees of the Metro District were working when they heard the sound and felt the percussive effects of a rifle blast. Moments later, a wounded elk that had been shot in its hind quarters ran through the Metro District parking lot. According to Dannels, the elk was so disoriented that it ran into a Metro District shop garage door several times before disappearing into the woods of Castle Pines Village. The wounded animal was never located.
“If we ever see or hear hunters out there again, I will shut down the District and send all employees home for safety concern,” said Dannels. “This would have a direct impact on the more than 3,700 people who rely on the District 24/7.”
Further investigation by Castle Pines Emergency Services and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) revealed that the hunter who shot the elk was properly licensed and had the permission of the private property landowner to hunt there.
According to the DCSO, their main goal is to ensure the safety of all citizens who live in and visit Douglas County. “While the hunter may have been there legally, the idea of public safety and common sense should prevail,” stated Sheriff David A.Weaver. “As our county grows we must understand that private property once used for hunting and other shooting sports may now not be the safest place to conduct those activities, especially if those areas are close to now populated spaces.”
The Douglas County website assessor information indicates that all of the 13 parcels of land are owned by Paul W. King and/or Nancy M. King and/or their trusts. Paul and Nancy King reside on a ranch located within the property.
The Village HA contacted Paul King prior to taking any legal action, and King refused to deny lawfully permitted hunting on his property. Following the preliminary injunction hearing in December, King said, “We are obviously not very happy about this action, but I want to confer with my attorney before commenting further.”
Although King declined to comment further to The Castle Pines Connection about the case, court testimony revealed that he has allowed hunters on the property for the purpose of hunting elk and deer in exchange for monetary payment.
At the injunction hearing, a ballistics expert testified that a round fired from a high powered rifle like those used to hunt elk could travel in excess of two miles, which would be one and a half miles beyond the property boundary if fired from the center of the property. Will said he believes that this fact weighed heavily in the the judge’s decision to grant the temporary restraining order.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is the state agency specifically assigned to implement and assure compliance with provisions regarding regulation of hunting and safe hunting practices in Colorado. As such, it has (through the office of the Colorado Attorney General) filed a motion to intervene as a defendant in this case, citing that “its interest is not, and cannot be adequately represented by the existing parties.”
The permanent injunction hearing that was scheduled for March 26, 2009 will now be a time to allow the parties to argue the state’s motion to intervene. As of press time, no new hearing date was set for the permanent injunction hearing. The temporary injunction remains in place until such time as a judge makes a final resolution.
Will says he is disappointed with the delay and with the Attorney General’s involvement. “Instead of having a permanent injunction granted on the 26th as anticipated, this now becomes a battle over jurisdictions,” he said.
The big game hunting season for private property in Douglas County begins September 1, 2009. Continue to watch for updates at
www.castlepinesconenction.com and email opinions to editor.