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Could there be a wolf reintroduction initiative on the Colorado ballot?

Wolf

Photo credit: Thinkstock

There are murmurings of an organized ballot initiative that would force a wolf reintroduction in Colorado. With elk populations already declining in the southwest portion of the state, this initiative could be detrimental to sustaining herds. In fact, both deer and elk herds within this region could be impacted if this ballot moves forward.

“To be clear, [the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation] strongly opposes the forced introduction of gray wolves to Colorado,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We have witnessed 20 plus years of lies and litigation in the Northern Rockies concerning wolves. This Colorado effort is driven by the same groups using the same tactics to accomplish their agenda.”

However, RMEF is not alone in its opposition to this idea. Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) has already gone on the record that the agency is also against “a forced reintroduction,” according to RMEF. The state already has an established wolf management plan and is working to “effectively manage the already occurring natural colonization of wolves to Colorado.”  

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“A forced introduction of wolves to Colorado would cost untold amounts of taxpayer dollars, redirect already limited wildlife management resources and would have a significant negative economic impact to the state,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “In Colorado, you are dealing with about a third of the land mass of the Northern Rockies’ states but almost double the human population. A forced reintroduction would trigger the potential for real issues in the state.”

While environmental groups argue that forced wolf reintroduction would “restore natural balance,” current research the idea that reestablishing wolf populations within the state would automatically create a balanced biodiversity.

“It is one thing if wolves naturally return to Colorado, but it is something completely different if they are artificially placed on the landscape to complicate a system that is already complicated by human population and development,” said Weaver.

Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information.

17 Comments

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mike m. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 04:39:24 pm
savage. minnesota

I live in Minnesota, and hunt the north east part if the state. We have more wolves hear that all the western states combined. They had at one time , a season the hunt wolves and the tree huggers put a stop to that! I can tell you that when the wolves move in, then deer move out and they raise holy hell with deer population. We need a hunt back in the worst way. It is much worse when there is a bad winter, when the snow gets real deep. Wolves clean up!!!!! We need help.

tavisrogers
Tavis R. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 08:31:22 am
Oak Creek, Colorado
goHUNT INSIDER

Wolves decimate big game herds. This is very well documented in the Greater Yellowstone Area whee moose populations have been reduced by around 90% and elk numbers reduced by around 80%. That is a direct impact to the G&F and all the businesses that relied on that annual income in those areas. Look at the extreme reduction of moose and elk tags in Western Wyoming since the introduction of the Canadian and Alaskan gray wolf.

Wolves kill the old, young, weak, sick and everything in between. They kill to eat and they kill for fun. There are numerous documented mass killings of livestock and wildlife by wolves where they didn’t even eat the animals they killed. There are documented cases where wolves target and pull down pregnant elk and moose and ripping the fetus from the still living mother’s wombs.

Wolves are documented to carry diseases that impact wildlife, livestock and people. Rabies, distemper, parvo, mange, and tapeworms that cause hydatid disease. Recent studies indicate that the prions that cause CWD can pass through wolves digestive system and be spread by their feces. With the distances travelled by wolves, these diseases are being more widely distributed. Hydatid disease is very spooky due to the length of time the cysts can remain viable after defecation and how easily it can be transmitted. That one disease alone should be reason enough for the re-eradication of wolves from the lower 48.

Wolf supporters have developed very strong arguments for introduction of more wolves in the lower 48 (particularly Colorado). They have developed studies that state that wolves have helped the environment by removing all the ungulates. This is a false narrative. The reduction of ungulates has increased the rate of vegetative succession by allowing for increased woody shrub growth in the meadows that were prime grazing areas. This will result in more mature stands of pine that will in turn result in greater fire hazard in the future.

They have developed studies with extremely skewed data indicating that wolves provide more income to the economy than hunting. In Colorado, the studies indicate that “wildlife watching” is worth $2.9 billion while hunting is only worth $800 million to the economy. Colorado Parks and Wildlife actually advertised those numbers excessively to get increases to license fees passed recently in the legislature Any guesses as to where this is leading?

No, the introduction of non-native Canadian and Alaskan gray wolves is not a good idea. Not in Colorado nor in any other of the lower 48 states.

Eddie K. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 07:30:55 am
Colorado
goHUNT INSIDER

Cactus, your nostalgic view of 'what could be' is quaint, but unfortunately we are two centuries removed from the period of westward expansion and exploration, and in Colorado a forced reintroduction of wolves would be a complete political disaster at this point. The groups trying to supporting reintroduction are not biologists or scientists, but activists and socialites who want to hear wolves howling at the moon from the decks of their vacation homes in Aspen. CPW and various other actual experts have CLEARLY stated their position to manage naturally occurring repopulation from the north and that they don't support other reintroduction efforts. The wolves will be here sooner or later, why not let them come on their own and see what happens? Why does there have to be a stupid power play by the HSUS and other groups to make it happen? It's interesting how these groups only recognize real science and management plans when it's convenient for them, i.e. their failed effort to introduce Mexican gray wolves that never existed here! Also, if Cactus, if you're going to name drop Lewis and Clark, you need to acknowledge that vast parts of the Rocky Mountains were almost devoid of game and their hunting successes took place mostly outside of the mountains-the 'teeming herds' you describe occurred on the plains and simply do not exist anymore. In 'providing some balance' to this thread you've successfully dropped every easily-Googled talking point the wolf reintroduction groups like to use at meeting but ignored the actual, real plan set forth by actual, real experts, how typical...

cspraguekayak
Cal S. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 07:08:51 am

The wolves are already there - the liberals.

Al C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 06:57:37 am

My local CO units aren’t above objective and cow tags are being reduced to try to bring herd numbers back up.

Al C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 06:45:01 am

Edit: “Shadows on the Koyukuk” by Sidney Huntington

Al C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-22-2019 06:47:48 am

Mr Cactus,

If you read the Lewis and Clark journals, then I am sure you are aware of the areas that were void of ungulates and their difficulties finding anything to hunt. If you want a more recent account of cyclic predator prey relationship directly involving wolves, please read Shadows on the Koyuk. This will give you a native perspective of the hardships when the predator prey cycle is going through the low prey high predator ratio. Luckily they could rely on salmon as a fail safe.

John W. - posted 7 months ago on 04-21-2019 05:15:33 pm
Pittsburgh, PA
goHUNT INSIDER

What is the purpose of reintroducing wolves to Colorado? Seems like a giant waste of money and resources for no good reason.

Cactus M. - posted 7 months ago on 04-20-2019 03:39:31 pm

To provide some balance to this comment thread, here's my take: We hunters have nothing to lose from wolves being in the forest with us and the big game we hunt. To the contrary, we have much to gain. Wolves keep the herds healthy and, over time, improve habitat that has suffered from overbrowsing.

I'm sure that some of you don't want to believe what I'm saying, and that's your right. If you can, however, just stop and ask yourselves a couple of questions: What does common sense tell you, and what does science have to say on the subject?

My common sense tells me that wolves, elk, and deer lived amongst each other for thousands of years. In all of that time, wolves (and the other big predators) did not drive big game to extinction. In fact, by the time Lewis and Clark made their first expeditions across America in the early 1800s, they describe great, teeming herds of elk, deer, bison, and pronghorn. It was only a massive effort by market hunters to ship back east the materials and meat from the big game that elk and deer were nearly driven out of the West. That same massive culling then left wolves no choice but to turn to cattle and sheep as they were being shipped West to domesticate the continent.

Today, published science tells us that, wolves are putting, at worst, minimal downward pressure on elk and deer. Where local herds are showing a decline, the primary culprits are declines in habitat quality (wolves could help with that) and hard weather. In Wyoming and Montana, annual harvests have continued to climb, despite the reintroduction of wolves.; the same story in Idaho, where elk harvest has far exceeded the 10-year average since 2014. In Wisconsin, which hosts nearly 1,000 wolves, deer harvest increased by almost 7% between 2017 and 2018.

For those of you that think things are different in Colorado, you are spot on. Colorado has the largest elk population anywhere, with nearly 289,000 head of elk (per the most recent data from Colorado Parks & Wildlife). In fact, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, the state's elk population is significantly over desired management objectives despite efforts to increase hunter opportunities. This overpopulation of elk is having a significant ecological impact and is negatively affecting the state's deer herds (elk generally out-compete deer for habitat). Notably, Colorado's deer population is tremendous, with over 400,000 as of the last count in 2017. The kicker: over 70 percent of western Colorado is federal public land, so that big game motherlode isn't going ever to be developed. There's plenty of room for wolves, hunters and big game in Colorado —plenty.

If we spend our time screaming that the sky is falling, the vegetarians and anti-hunting types will continue to push hunting into a more profound decline. They'll call us hysterical killers who refuse to share the land and animals with any beings other than humans, and they'll get more support for their campaigns to end hunting.

Instead, if we act like the strong, self-sufficient sportsmen that we think we are, we'll welcome wolves back. Having wolves in western Colorado will be a sign that we've learned from past mistakes, and that we are up to the task of being good stewards of God's bounty.

Gary H. - posted 7 months ago on 04-19-2019 05:32:55 am
goHUNT INSIDER

like totally dude. We should soooo introduce wolves again. Ya maaaan, good idea.

Freaking stoners/hippies and their beliefs are ruining Colorado.

I first visited Colorado in 1995 then again in 2002 and noticed a huge difference on how "Dumb" people seemed. Then in 2016 I was in awe on how stupid people were acting. Then I realized that I was the only person in town who wasn't stoned. lol Literally I think I was the only person in Steamboat who wasnt high. Its sad honestly.

Pot is turning that state into a bunch of vegetables.

Now the damn hippie/animal lovers want to re-introduce wolves.

Great.

Aaron J. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 11:07:37 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Say goodbye to Colorado's elk, moose, and deer herds. These same groups have plans to reintroduce wolves and grizzlies throughout the rest of the Rockies. They don't care if game populations get wiped out for decades so long as hunting is destroyed over the long run. The whole point is to destroy hunting.

Mike R. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 06:57:12 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Why ? Because as soon as liberals in Denver make up 51%..... how many examples do we need? Trapping, guns, wolves ..... look at every western state with one big population center. Oregon, Nevada, Colorado. Not really a surprise

matthew a. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 05:29:08 pm
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER

On a bright note, when the wolves crush the elk population the non resident pref point creep issue will be resolved.

ben.lundell84
Ben L. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 02:37:25 pm
Utah
goHUNT INSIDER

If the wolves are invading Colorado on their own, why does the state want to get involved? I think the Government sees dollar signs. Getting involved would mean more government regulation and thus taxing or fees of some sort. They need to listen to the States already dealing with wolves.

Matthew C. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 02:08:14 pm
Hidden Springs, Idaho
goHUNT INSIDER

I guess people don't see what is going on here in Idaho. Hopefully this gets shut down, would be horrible to see another state fall victim to this.

Hugh M. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 11:36:22 am
Grand Junction
goHUNT INSIDER

... WHY!!!??? Can these nut jobs go live with the wolves first and see how that turns out??? We already have enough issues with the Lions and Bears we don't need more predators!

matthew a. - posted 7 months ago on 04-18-2019 11:17:11 am
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER

Well if there going to do that, I hope they got a plan to recoup all the lost revenue that follows from hunter withdrawl from CO.
That being a second order effect the lefties want