Plan to Release Wolves in Colorado Sparks Controversy Among Residents
Gray wolves have been practically nonexistent in Colorado for decades after a government-sponsored extermination campaign in the 1940s. That won’t be the case for long, however. In 2020, voters backed a measure that would reintroduce gray wolves into the wilderness of the Centennial State, and now that the plan is being implemented before its end-of-2023 deadline, some residents aren’t exactly pleased.
Starting in December, the state will begin releasing dozens of gray wolves into the wild in the hopes that they’ll be able to create their own packs of upwards of 150 members. Experts are starting small with up to 10 in the first batch next month.
The animals, which have been generously given to the state by Oregon, have become a point of contention for local farmers and ranchers who consider them a threat to wildlife and their livestock. According to USA Today, some worry they’ll have to spend more money to protect their cows and sheep from the potential predators.
Gov. Jared Polis noted that his administration and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have “held public meetings and collected feedback from more than 3,400 Coloradans” before setting the plan into motion. “We are deeply grateful for Oregon’s partnership in this endeavor, and we are now one step closer to fulfilling the will of the voters in time,” he said in a statement.
Oregon, for its part, is happy to help with the wolf repopulation.
“Oregon has a long history of helping other states meet their conservation goals by providing animals for translocation efforts. Some of our wildlife populations were also restored thanks to other states doing the same for us, including Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat,” Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Curt Melcher said. “The wolves will come from northeast Oregon, where wolves are most abundant in the state and where removal of 10 wolves will not impact any conservation goals.”