Colorado Voters to Decide on Wolf Reintroduction

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

State officials say the canines may already be living in the northwest part of the state

Colorado voters will decide this fall whether or not to reintroduce wolves into the state, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials believe the canines may already be there. 

CBSDenver.com reports a likely sighting of wolves earlier this month, which has spurred both supporters and opponents of wolf reintroduction to speak up in favor of their respective arguments.

“It is a compelling reason for the people of Colorado to embrace and enact Initiative 107 in the fall,” said Rob Edward, president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund. “We need to reintroduce wolves, and that is what Initiative 107 is about.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife say the discovery of a scavenged elk carcass near Irish Canyon is only a few miles from where an eyewitness spotted six large canids traveling together last October. The eyewitness was in a hunting party and posted video of wolves near the Wyoming and Utah borders.

This combination of evidence, along with a photo of possible tracks, suggests a pack of gray wolves may now be living in the state.

“We don’t need this ballot initiative, and we don’t need a forced introduction of the wolves into the state,” said Blake Henning, chief conservation officer of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). “They’re moving that direction; they are in [Colorado already] so let’s allow the natural migration of these animals to occur.”

The RMEF, which has 17,000 members in Colorado, says it wants to see the elk population well-managed at healthy, abundant populations. The foundation has already come out against the wolf reintroduction initiative.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced Monday that proponents had gathered enough signatures to get Initiative 107 — “Restoration of Gray Wolves” — on the 2020 General Election ballot.

Advocates say having gray wolves back in Colorado could restore the state’s natural balance and believe it should be for the people to decide.

Opponents say the decision should be made by experts with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Currently, the initiative specifies that reintroduction would happen on BLM land in western Colorado and would include a fund to reimburse ranchers if wolves kill livestock.

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