FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2023
Lindsay Larris, WildEarth Guardians, email@example.com
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, michaelr@biologicaldiversity.
Michael Saul, Western Watersheds Project, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-915-8308
Delia Malone, Colorado Sierra Club, email@example.com.
Vast majority of public comment makes clear that wolves should be protected, never hunted
DENVER– Scores of Coloradans today voiced their support for science-based, ecological wolf restoration throughout Colorado during a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission hearing on a draft wolf plan. Commenters opposed any future trophy hunts as well as killing wolves that prey on livestock without requiring that ranchers first use non-lethal measures to avoid conflict.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission – which has been taking public comments on the agency’s draft wolf plan since December – is now expected to work with agency staff to produce a final plan.
Following the 2020 passage of Proposition 114, Colorado statute requires that gray wolves are to be reintroduced to the state by the end of 2023 and that CPW will put a science-based plan in place to restore a “self-sustaining” population of wolves with the intent to “help restore a critical balance in nature.” The law also designates wolves as a “non-game” species, which precludes recreational trophy hunting and trapping. An August 2022 poll showed that most Colorado voters, including majorities on the Western Slope and Republicans, don’t want wolves trophy hunted or trapped. Wolf advocates had decried CPW’s initial inclusion of a potential wolf trophy hunt in the draft plan.
“The commissioners’ support to remove any mention of a recreational wolf hunt in a revised plan positions Colorado to truly become an exemplar for how a state can reintroduce and manage wolves,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “The removal of language hinting at a potential future trophy hunt honors the intent of the voters of Colorado were very clear: the gray wolf is to be restored to Colorado, not hunted and trapped as a repeat of a dark history.”
“Colorado’s Wildlife Commission has been entrusted by the voters with correcting a catastrophic historical error – the deliberate eradication of the majestic gray wolf from the State,” said Michael Saul, Colorado director for Western Watersheds Project. “We appreciate the work to date in bringing back the wolf to Colorado, but the law demands, and the voters deserve, more than the current draft plan offers – a healthy population of stable, reproducing wolf packs distributed throughout multiple suitable habitats, free from the human-caused mortality that wiped them out the first time.”
Even without potential trophy hunting, the plan would likely result in a high rate of government killings of wolves because it would not require livestock owners to take any non-lethal measures to prevent wolf predation on their stock. The most important such measure would be removal or destruction of the carcasses of non-wolf-killed livestock to prevent wolves from scavenging in the vicinity of other stock vulnerable to predation.
“Opponents of Proposition 114 are practically salivating over this draft plan, and it’s not because they belatedly appreciate that wolves will restore a balance in nature,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hoodwinking the public by not revealing that endangered wolves will be gunned down on a regular basis so ranchers won’t have to lift a finger to prevent conflicts. Coloradans voted for science-based approaches to wolf restoration, not shooting wolves from helicopters.”
“The current version of the plan is more like science fiction than science-based,” explained Michelle Lute, PhD in wolf conservation and carnivore conservation director for Project Coyote. “CPW wants to pretend that lethal control is a legitimate tool but modern, best available science tells us otherwise. Allowing the use of ineffective lethal tools misinforms the public, wastes public resources and increases the risks to wolves and livestock.”
“Proposition 114 directs that wolf management is to be guided by Best Available Science, but CPW’s current draft plan focuses on lethal control and opens the door to trophy hunting – neither are supported by ethics or best available science,” said Delia Malone, wildlife chair for the Colorado Sierra Club. “Non-lethal means of preventing conflict between livestock and wolves is proven effective, while lethal control is both ineffective at preventing conflict and disrupts wolf family social structure, disabling a pack’s ability to survive and perform their role in restoring a critical natural balance.”
Commissioners are expected to vote on a final wolf plan at their meeting in Glenwood Springs on May 3rd and 4th. Because wolves are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, there is a concurrent process being led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to write a federal rule guiding wolf management in Colorado. The federal process is expected to finish in time for wolf releases in December 2023.