Help Shape the Future of Wolves in Colorado
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has produced a draft wolf plan for the state following the 2020 passage of Proposition 114. The draft plan is a step towards recovering wolves in the Colorado Rockies, but there are some key issues that need to be fixed in order for it to truly point toward ecological restoration. Fortunately, with your support, we believe we can make those fixes happen.
Now is the time for Coloradans, including you, to help shape the future of wolves and coexistence in our state.
From now until February 22nd, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is taking public comment on their draft plan for wolves in Colorado. You can submit your online comments here and we have provided talking points below to help you. It’s important to use your own voice. Be respectful but firm in your writing.
You can also give public comment in-person at a number of CPW meetings around the state. Click here to find a meeting in your area.
KEY TALKING POINTS
- The delisting threshold should be significantly higher. There is no reason to remove protected status from wolves before there is a self-sustaining population as called for in Prop. 114. A combination of the best available science and an analysis of suitable habitat in Western Colorado indicates that 750 individuals or 150 packs should be the minimum for a Colorado population. The numbers in the CPW plan (150/200 to lose protected status) rely on environmental analysis from the Northern Rockies from 1994. This information is outdated and not even based on a Colorado-specific analysis. Without protected status, wolves are more likely to be killed and their population could be suppressed.
- The plan should not mention a wolf hunt. There is no scientific or “management” justification for a recreational wolf hunt. Wolf hunting is trophy hunting, plain and simple. Polling shows that Coloradans oppose trophy hunting. Indiscriminate wolf killing may increase wildlife-livestock conflict. And Prop. 114 explicitly calls for wolves to be a non-game species. Any mention of a potential hunt is antithetical to the language of Prop. 114 and the values of the majority of Coloradans.
- Livestock owners should play a role in coexistence. The plan does not include any requirements for livestock owners to implement coexistence practices to be eligible for compensation for lost animals or for CPW to kill wolves at their behest. Especially on public lands–where native wildlife should be protected and respected–livestock owners need to do their part and CPW should play a role in assisting coexistence education and implementation. The implementation of some coexistence practices should be mandatory for livestock operators when wolves are known to be in the area—not just a suggestion—in order to best protect wolves.
- Wolves should not be killed on public lands. As wildlife habitat shrinks and the globe goes through a mass extinction event, public lands are the last and best places for native species to survive. These should be refuges for wolves to re-colonize. They should not be killing grounds. Public lands are places that should be managed for all Coloradans, the majority of whom support sharing wild places with native species.
- The plan should promote restoration throughout the Western Slope. A lack of any geographic element for delisting means that Colorado’s wolf population (especially if it is only 150 wolves) could inhabit a small, isolated part of Colorado and leave the majority of wolf habitat devoid of a keystone species. CPW should—like they do for other species–employ zones or units to help restore wolves throughout the Western Slope.
- A wolf-killing loophole needs to be closed. The plan says that “Any employee or agent of CPW or USFWS or appropriate state or federal or tribal agency, who is designated in writing, when acting in the course of official duties may take a wolf from the wild if such actions [are]…to avoid conflict with human activities.” This could mean anything and undermines any protections wolves do or will enjoy. This language needs to be tightened.
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