Colorado voters order wolf reintroduction

Canis lupus – image courtesy Wikimedia

Voters in Colorado have enacted by initiative a statute that requires gray wolves to be re-introduced to the state by 2023. According to results available at the website of secretary of state Jena Griswold, Proposition 114 passed with 50.64% of the vote.

Wolves will be reintroduced only to the Western Slope. The initiative includes a mandate to compensate ranchers who lose livestock to Canis lupus predation. In addition, the voter-enacted law requires the state parks and wildlife commission to use “the best scientific data available” to develop the reintroduction plan, hold hearings around the state to gather information to be considered in making the plan, and help ranchers to prevent wolf-livestock interactions.

The particular areas on the Western Slope that will again be populated by Canis lupus is left to the commission to determine. Prior to 1940 the animal ranged not only west of the Rockies, but across the state. In more recent years there have been wolf sightings in western Colorado, including a wolf pack.

Despite being added to the U.S. list of endangered and threatened species in 1974, and although gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in January 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service never moved to return the species to Colorado.

The Trump regime eliminated Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf on Oct. 29, 2020.

The state parks and wildlife commission rejected a 2016 proposal to reintroduce wolves. Colorado has, however, re-introduced several other species: turkeys during the 1980s, lynx in 1999, and bison in 2015, for example.

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