Let’s Get The Colorado Wolf Reintroduction Right
This is a pivotal moment for wolves in the western United States. With Colorado’s decision to reintroduce wolves following the passage of Proposition 114 in a 2020 vote, we want to ensure that the proposed management plan aligns with what’s best for our four-legged friends, and creates a sustainable future for wolves in the Centennial state.
Following the draft release of the proposed plan, which we commented on here, the plan has now entered a public comment period. Anyone, regardless of where you live, can comment on the plan between now and Feburary 22nd. We think everyone who cares about the future of wolves in the region should comment as soon as possible.
Before you do, here’s some helpful talking points to remember:
- The delisting threshold within the plan is far too low. The current threshold proposes that wolves in the regions should be delisted from Endangered Species Act protection once 150 wolves have been observed for two straight years, or 200 wolves have been observed for one year. This is far below the scientific data that suggests a minimum of 750 wolves and 150 wolf packs are necessary for sustainability in region. Delisting so early would open the doors to wolf killing and population suppression before they even get a foothold.
- Recreational hunting shouldn’t even be mentioned. Wolves are not trophies. There is no scientific justification that supports recreational hunting as a part of wolf management. Proposition 114, in its original intent, called for wolves to be a non-game species, yet the management plan leaves the door open for future reclassification as a “big game” species. This is unacceptable and should be removed.
- Livestock owners and ranchers need to play a role in coexistence.Currently the plan grants livestock owners compensation, and suggests that CPW may kill wolves that impact livestock. We think that livestock owners should have to at least implement non-lethal coexistence practices that could help deter these sorts of conflicts before they begin. This is especially true on public land, where the emphasis on coexistence and sustainability should be the priority over profit.
- On that note, wolves should not be killed on public lands. These public lands are meant to be protected, and the wildlife sustained. It’s antithetical to think that wolves could potentially be killed in spaces meant for the protection of wild nature.
- The proposed range should extend through the Western Slope. Like we’ve seen in nearby states, if you don’t allow wolves to range naturally, it’s unlikely the overall population will ever reach the sorts of sustainable numbers and diversity of genetics that we are seeking.
- Future wolf management plans should include Mexican gray wolves. For now, the proposed reintroduction completely overlooks Mexican gray wolves, despite Southern Colorado containing habitat that they could potentially thrive in. The species, which has less than 200 wild members, needs more areas to grow, procreate, and expand if we’re ever to see their numbers bounce back in a meaningful way.
These are a good starting point to help guide you as you submit your comment, but make sure you personalize the responses so that there are plenty of diverse submissions that the CPW will have to fully consider. Remember, you can submit a comment even if you don’t live in Colorado, but it has to be in by Feb. 22nd.