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Colorado voters may get to decide on wolf recovery

Wolf

Photo credit: Dreamstime

In Colorado, voters may get to determine whether wolves will return to the state. Last week, a ballot proposal was submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State that would allow Colorado residents a say in “finalizing the long effort to restore wolf populations in North America,” The Colorado Sun reports.

“A wolf population in Western Colorado would serve as the archstone, the final piece that would connect wolves from the high Arctic all the way to the Mexican border,” said Montana state Sen. Mike Phillips. “Colorado is maybe the last piece of the puzzle and it is a critically important piece.”

Initiative 79 was submitted to the state title board last week. According to The Colorado Sun, the ballot asks voters “to approve a law requiring the Colorado Wildlife Commission to craft a plan ‘using the best scientific data available’” in order to reintroduce gray wolves “on public lands west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023.” If the ballot is approved, it would be something for voters to decide during the November 2020 election. According to Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund political consultant Rick Ridder, once the state approve ballot language, “petitioners could be on the ground this summer with a goal to collect about 200,000 signatures needed to put the measure before voters.”

Historically, wolf restoration efforts follow federal protocol with state wildlife managers going through the required steps outlined by the Endangered Species Act. Using voters to determine wildlife management is a new strategy.

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“This is a new technique and new way of trying to do it and I guess the groups that are promoting this, they apparently think they can skip the normal process for wildlife management that we have used in this country for more than 100 years,” said Blake Henning, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chief conservation officer. “This will have to be more of a grassroots campaign. We are going to have to get the word out more broadly and more regularly and with good basis to cause people to really think about what they are signing or voting for. This is a new game.”

Wolves were once native to the state, but, according to The Colorado Sun, the last one was shot in the early 1940s. While wolf migration is natural—and wolves have been spotted in the state—a concentrated recovery is different. In fact, as goHUNT previously reported, Colorado Parks & Wildlife has already gone on the record to say that it is against a forced reintroduction and the Colorado Wildlife Commission rejected a 2016 proposal to re-establish wolves in the state. In fact, according to The Colorado Sun, the commission supported the conclusions of the 2005 14-member Wolf Management Working Group, which “cited millions of dollars invested in big game populations, and conflict with the livestock industry and big game management” as reasons to not reintroduce wolves to the state.

“The thing that gets in the way of wolf recovery, wolf restoration is the mythical wolf. A lot of people will have you believe the gray wolf has this almost supernatural ability to exercise its predatory will and whim, and everywhere they go they have leave waste and desolation as these wanton killing machines. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Phillips. “We know a lot about gray wolves. And once Coloradans are ready to embrace an honest portrayal of the wolf, they will conclude that coexisting with it is a rather straightforward affair.”

30 Comments

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Gary H. - posted 6 months ago on 05-16-2019 07:52:50 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Just wait until their economy crashed from NR hunting throwing in the towel.

Its all the anti-hunting group wants from this.

Roger B. - posted 7 months ago on 05-02-2019 05:49:12 am
Missoula MT

Very bad deal It will be a feeding frenzy for a decade until 2/3 of your Elk population is gone
like piranhas in a fish bowl. !!! They are already heading in that direction why waste the money with a introduction.
Missoula MT

James D. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 06:19:10 pm
Granbury, TX
goHUNT INSIDER

And finally, it's not the mythical wolf, it's the definitely unmythical NGOs that are the sticking point for me.

James D. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 06:19:12 pm
Granbury, TX
goHUNT INSIDER

Additionally, with respect to Mr. Phillips, reintroducing greys to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana certainly wasn't a straight forward affair. USFW and state agreements were regularly countermanded by NGOs that originally agreed to the plan all the while organizing suits and using those suits to win legal fees in excess of their costs and using the the conflicts to raise donations. I don't trust the NGOs, regardless of what congress has done since then.

James D. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 06:10:24 pm
Granbury, TX
goHUNT INSIDER

It is a mistake to actively introduce grey wolves into Colorado. There have already been incidences of greys wondering into Arizona. It won't take many to overcome the small population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. Active reintroduction in Colorado will doom the Mexican wolf recovery plan. They will naturally expand over time but active reintroduction would be a disaster until the Mexican wolf reaches its planned population in the US and Mexico.

nacoppolo
Nick C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 05:15:25 pm
Denver, Colorado
goHUNT INSIDER

I assumed this was a joke was I wrong?:

matthew a. - posted 3 hours ago on 04-30-2019 01:07:37 pm
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER
Michael & Nick: Im sorry your argument isnt supported by science and youve chosen personal insults as a means to justify your opinion. Frankly, its in bad taste and undermines your credibility.
Please provide some credible facts to support your argument, such as personal experince or peer reviewed biological data

Thanks,

Pro Ungulate Nation

Larry T. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 04:52:30 pm
Berthoud, CO

Many apologies Michael - post intended for Brandon S

Brandon - elk refuge population is at highest in two decades, and is in fact overpopulated. https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/environmental/article_94832511-8fa2-...

-signed, real-life, Phd'ed biologist

Larry T. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 04:50:47 pm
Berthoud, CO

Michael P - elk refuge population is at highest in two decades, and is in fact overpopulated. https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/environmental/article_94832511-8fa2-...

-signed, real-life, Phd'ed biologist

Lars Peter O. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 01:28:17 pm

Michael P. Now that’s funny. I have not seen a study of wolves taking small children, don’t think that has happen, just when I talk to my cousins in Minnesota venting their concerns.

Michael P. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 01:14:47 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Matthew a.: Apology accepted... but I haven't stated my opinions, and I'm not seeking any credibility in this crowd... after all, I'd be afraid to ask you exactly WHO you perceive as credible. But here is an important fact.... Science and facts do not matter to these type of people. There is plenty of both out there, but fairy tales die hard. And I'm sorry to say... while peer reviewed papers should be the primary source of these people's information, "personal experience" has nothing to do with "credible facts". Watch this... Mr. Mainer witnesses Maine's moose population declining fast. + A wolf was found in Maine a decade ago. == 1 wolf is the reason for Maine's moose decline. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Done here.

matthew a. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 01:07:37 pm
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER

Michael & Nick: Im sorry your argument isnt supported by science and youve chosen personal insults as a means to justify your opinion. Frankly, its in bad taste and undermines your credibility.
Please provide some credible facts to support your argument, such as personal experince or peer reviewed biological data

Thanks,

Pro Ungulate Nation

Michael P. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 12:58:04 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Hey Lars Peter, that's odd that I haven't read about all the wolf attacks up there on little children waiting for the school bus. Well, there was that one... went by the name of Little Red Riding Hood. Never mind, I realized why I haven't read them... its those conspiracists suppressing public information. I do have some concerning news for you though. I've seen some wolves running around with collars on. We're told they are telemetry collars, but I've seen myself that they were actually deployed by the United Nations to monitor our rural citizens and destroy their way of life.... with the help of Hillary Clinton! Sleep on that one for a while!!

Lars Peter O. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 12:10:44 pm

We’ll talk to the people in northern Minnesota, winter time they have to have adult escorts for kids to the school buses, wolfs have invaded back yards taking dogs, deer population decimated, my cousins live in embarras Minnesota and deal with wolves all the time

jody.warner
Jody W. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 11:57:43 am
Omaha, Nebraska
goHUNT INSIDER

I don't think most people are actually afraid of the wolf attacks, per say, but they do change the dynamic. I hunted north of Rawlins Wyoming alittle while ago. No one mentioned wolves before i went, but did i get an earful from the locals. From talking to people closer to the CO/WY border, they act like the wolves are already in northern Colorado.

nacoppolo
Nick C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 10:36:20 am
Denver, Colorado
goHUNT INSIDER

What Michael P. said

Michael P. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 09:51:27 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Thanks guys for the entertainment! I love watching (and reading) arm-chair biologists piss themselves at the thought of encountering a big bad, oh-so-scary, wolf and frighten them that their is either a conspiracy to end their way of life, way of hunting, or that they won't be good enough to outsmart the elk anymore once the wolves educate or eradicate them. Thanks for always and predictably being willing to be the butt of society's laughs. And by the way... dont worry, there are plenty of canned hunts that will give you exactly what you want in a hunting experience.

Jared H. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 07:48:42 am
goHUNT INSIDER

On a side note, seems how it mainly seems to be CO residents here, I'm looking for people to hunt with this year! Last year was my first year hunting CO and I loved, applied for everything I could this year. Let me know if anyone wants a hunting buddy!

Brandon S. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 07:32:47 am
Treasureton, ID
goHUNT INSIDER

Good luck CO! I have lived in Wyoming and Idaho (and Colorado once upon a time) and wolves WILL affect your deer, elk, moose and livestock numbers. They all have to eat and contrary to Phillips statement, they are killing machines. I watched the population of elk in Wyoming take a dramatic decline in numbers. It was very obvious at the elk refuge in Jackson where the numbers were reduced by at least half. Fight this one if you can CO but I also know that Denver and the I-70 corridor rule the state and your liberal "hippie" types are going to rule your wildlife now.

nacoppolo
Nick C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 06:40:32 am
Denver, Colorado
goHUNT INSIDER

This is my backyard... I'm all for apex predators in Colorado where they're meant to be, costs and all. When Elk and deer populations go down and fear rises, there will be less tag revenue, but also less folks in the mountains. Sounds good to me. We'll figure it out.

Gary H. - posted 7 months ago on 04-30-2019 05:27:27 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Wonderful. Just what we need. A bunch of damn hippies voting emotionally.

Mike B. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 10:16:41 pm

Anyone that thinks this is about wolves is mistaken. It's nothing more than an anti-hunter ploy to destroy huntable game to render hunting "unnecessary". In Wisconsin we were conned into reintroducing wolves based on a series of lies. Now that they have been exposed, it doesn't matter because wolves here are federally protected as they overrun our state at many times the levels they were supposed to even exist at. Colorado, please don't do it, you will regret it.

matthew a. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 06:41:05 pm
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER

Denver and Boulder Hippies, thats who will rally to pass the bill.

Lars Peter O. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 06:40:36 pm

I agree Colorado is doomed, once pot was legalized everything went down hill, I use to work in Denver every street corner kids begging for cash for weed. I could not take it I moved back to Arizona, now you have your governor running for President, Governor popperscooper or what ever his name is. CA liberals are moving into Arizona so there is not much left.

Dillon H. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 06:42:54 pm
Douglas, Wyoming
goHUNT INSIDER

Front range liberals will be all about it, CommieRADO, is so backwards. This will be a mess I hope that it never happens, but I know down there it probably will. Wildlife management by “feelings” is no surprise that’s just left wing Colorado politics.

Christopher S. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 06:26:17 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Colorado is doomed.

Patrick H. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 05:50:22 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

As I sit here reading this I tell my wife about it and her response is “why”. I say “ I don’t know. I just don’t know.” Look at all the good the wolves have done for the elk populations in Montana and Idaho. Let’s do it and then hope the elk numbers can recover in 30 years after the wolves get over populated and we realize we should have a season to control them. But hey, Colorado is probably the most liberal western state. Why should we expect any different?

Neil J. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 05:12:57 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

I think we should also reintroduce malaria to the areas of the USA where it was once prevalent and a naturally occurring entity. It was a naturally existing species that we now need in order to return to our pre-settled habitat. We simply must get all those wild places back to Status quo...Please add that to the ballot too...

Lars Peter O. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 04:25:08 pm

This is a bad idea, once gone stay gone. It is like the idiots wanting to reintroduce grizzlies in Arizona. We have to many hikers that will get hurt, reintroduce wolf to Colorado is a waste of taxpayers cash, livestock will be severely impacted.

matthew a. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 03:57:58 pm
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER

I hope New Mexico and Arizona Wildlife officials respond to the expansion of grey wolves into Colorado. Ive previously read and heard that they support the present geographical buffer that separates the grey wolves from the endangered red wolf population. If grey wolf southward expansion is too rapid, it will likely result in the permanent removal of the red wolf blood line.

Jared H. - posted 7 months ago on 04-29-2019 10:11:05 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Other than the wolves being able to live in beautiful country, what would be the benefit to this? This would only disrupt the wildlife already here, and make people more wary of being outdoors. Why would they want to reintroduce wolves when all they do is kill and disrupt what is already here? I love wolves, think they are beautiful intelligent creatures, but I personally do not want them here in CO.