Garfield commissioners may stand up to wolf issue | PostIndependent.com

Garfield commissioners may stand up to wolf issue

FILE - In this July 16, 2004, file photo, a gray wolf is seen at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to drop legal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, reopening a lengthy battle over the predator species. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File)
AP | AP

Garfield County commissioners could soon take a position on a potential 2020 ballot measure to reintroduce wolves to the state.

On Monday, the board of county commissioners will consider a resolution opposing any effort to bring wolves to Colorado.

The Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition is asking counties across the state to take a stand against wolf reintroduction as ballot initiative effort is going on. Mesa and Moffat counties passed similar resolutions in 2018.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project began collecting signatures to place Initiative 107 on the November 2020 election ballot.

The initiative would require the state to bring wolves into the Colorado Rocky Mountains by December 2023.

Proponents of the initiative are still collecting signatures for the initiative. Bringing wolves to Colorado would fill an essential gap in the ecosystem, according to supporters.

The resolution proposed to the commissioners takes a different stance.

“Predation by wolves of the wildlife and domestic livestock is a serious problem that Colorado should not invite, encourage or accept,” the resolution states.

“(In) addition to the negative economic social impacts of wolf reintroduction, wolves pose a danger to the physical health of household pets and people due to predation and the transmission of diseases,” the resolution adds.

Wolf reintroduction in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and parts of the Southwest has been so successful the Fish and Wildlife Service wants to remove the species from the list of endangered and threatened animals.

The Colorado Department of Wildlife studied bringing wolves into the state more than a decade ago, and concluded wolf reintroduction was not necessary.

The wolf introduction bill doesn’t specify where wolves would be introduced, but it does designate lands “west of the continental divide.”

 Gray wolf introduction may cost the state and hunting organizations money, according to a fiscal analysis of the measure.

Elk, deer and moose would be likely prey for the wolves, potentially reducing the number of hunting licenses available.

On the other hand, wolf introduction may boost other forms of outdoor recreation, according to Legislative Council staff.

“Conversely, the presence of gray wolves may have a positive effect on the health of some ecosystems, which may promote participation in non-consumptive forms of outdoor recreation,” the report said.

Garfield County’s resolution adds that any federal or state wolf management plan include funding to offset negative impacts on ranchers, hunters, and other aspects of the local economies.

tphippen@postindependent.com


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