U.S. Wolf Population Deemed ‘Recovered’, Yet CO Ballot Measure Seeks Unnecessary and Expensive Introduction

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ARVADA, Colo.- Forty-five years after gray wolves were initially listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Trump Administration and various conservation partners announced today the successful recovery of the species and its subsequent delisting from the ESA. At the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Secretary Department of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced that with the delisting, state and tribal wildlife management agencies will resume responsibility for the proper management and protection of gray wolves in states with gray wolf populations. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will continue to monitor the species for five years to ensure the continued prosperity of gray wolves in the U.S.

USFWS came to its final determination based on the best scientific and commercial data available. This involved in-depth analysis of threats to the species, how they have been alleviated, as well as evidence of state’s and tribe’s continued commitment to the management of healthy wolf populations. Analysis of current and historical distribution of gray wolf populations indicated that the species has exceeded all goals for conservation recovery and is no longer threatened or endangered.

Previously, states such as Wyoming, Idaho and Montana were delisted due to healthy and sustainable population growth that has thusly expanded into other states, most recently including Colorado (CO). The states of Washington, Oregon, California and Colorado have shown commitment to preserving wolves through development of management plans and protective laws. The state of CO currently faces Proposition 114, a ballot initiative seeking to introduce wolves into the state. This measure is being pushed by out of state activist groups and actively disregards the scientific date mentioned above, as well as goes against the recommendations of experts in Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Proposition 114 is problematic on a large scale due to the following:

  • COVID-19 impacts drastically damaged the state budget, management of wolf introduction adds to the state’s already stressed financial situation 
  • CO supports treasured wildlife populations, such as moose herds and the endangered Greater Sage Grouse, wolves pose a direct threat to these species
  • Agriculture is a primary state economic driver, contributing billions of dollar to the state’s economy annually, as well as providing open space and wildlife habitat
  • CO is already home to a functioning pack of wolves, with a variety of sightings and evidence documented, as well as a visual sighting of puppies

“Proposition 114 is a reckless and expensive assault on Colorado’s economy, wildlife and livestock production, and not to mention an already growing wolf population,” said CCA President Janie VanWinkle. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife has an efficient, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-recognized management plan in place, which is actively protecting wolves within the state. For the sake of Colorado’s treasured wildlife, and fragile economy, Coloradans need to vote no on Proposition 114.”