Photo taken by Mike Eastman
In early April, the Colorado Secretary of State received a ballot proposal – Initiative 79, that would require the State to reintroduce wolves to western Colorado by the end of 2023. The initiative needs 200,000 signatures in order to be placed on the ballot. That should not be difficult.
According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), “extreme environmentalist groups behind I-79 foresee a [wolf] population of at least 1,000 and are firmly against hunting and trapping.”
As usual, the push is coming from outside the state. The Sierra Club, Ted Turner Foundation and others are supportive of this, and Montana senator Mike Phillips, a director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund is advising the two Colorado partner groups behind the initiative, The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund. The latter group is funded by the San Francisco-based Tides Center.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) came out with a statement in 2016 opposing any intentional introduction of gray wolves to Colorado based on “potential conflict with the State’s livestock industry and current big game management efforts” and citing the conclusions of the Colorado Wolf Management Working Group’s study published in December 2004 in which the group said that natural migration into Colorado was likely to occur.
The wolf does not need any help in spreading. According to 2018 USFWS estimates of wolf populations the northern Great Lakes and the northern Rockies already have well-established populations of nearly 3,765 and 1,782 with populations now in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Given that, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is in the public comment period until May 14 on its proposal to delist the gray wolf across the United States. You can submit comments on that here. Then click on the Comment Now blue button on the right side.
The war is on in Colorado. The issue will no doubt be on the ballot before long, funded by groups outside the state trying to force Colorado to do what the wildlife agency in charge of studying and managing the state’s wildlife has opposed. The flow of money into the state will build to fund an enormous media campaign aimed at the Front Range population centers in which new Coloradans from California and elsewhere will be encouraged to force the State to bring West Coast politics to bear on wildlife management. If you think this works well, I encourage you to talk to people in Oregon, both hunters and those in wildlife management.