Mulhall column: Wolf voters’ remorse?
In the spring of 2020, the PI published a column of mine titled “The wolves’ tailor” in which I urged a “No” vote on the 2020 Colorado Gray Wolf Re-introduction Initiative (Proposition 114).
Proposition 114 passed 50.91% to 49.09%.
Last month, CBS News Colorado wrote a story about the misgivings of some Summit County Prop 114 supporters after Colorado Parks and Wildlife released their draft Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan.
According to CBS, CPW’s draft plan affects “large mountain municipalities like Vail, Breckenridge, Gunnison, Montrose, Glenwood Springs, and even (towns) as far east as Frisco.”
No big surprise, really.
Yet, one lady CBS interviewed, as she walked a small dog in Frisco, said, “I don’t think (the plan) would be ideal, personally… I thought (wolf re-introduction) would be further (sic) out.”
While one voter hardly makes a representative sampling, that’s voter’s remorse.
Looking at her dog, the lady lamented that, size-wise, her pooch was an ideal wolf snack, and, in that observation, she was more correct than she may realize.
You see, she may have voted to re-introduce wolves to Colorado, but there are numerous enforceable administrative rules just coming to light that accompany the Prop 114 — rules she didn’t vote on.
For her, maybe at the top of the list is that, under law, if a wolf attacks you — and you’re fortunate enough to be carrying a firearm — you can shoot it; however, if the wolf passes you by and attacks your dog, you can’t.
That’s right. The draft wolf-release plan submitted by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ administration establishes this rule about Colorado wolf re-introduction: “Lethal control of wolves in the act of or having recently attacked a pet or hunting dog is not allowed in any phase (of re-introduction).”
In other words, if a wolf attacks your dog, you must watch poor Fido look at you — perhaps puzzled by your inaction — as he gets dragged off in the jaws of a wolf, or worse.
Because you can’t intercede on Fido’s behalf with any force that could kill the wolf.
Some 114 supporters may not be ready for that.
In a pet attack, perhaps you could sacrifice yourself, of course, and, if the wolf turns on you, officials could shoot the wolf but only after the wolf finishes with you: “The lethal control of wolves that have attacked (a human) (but are not in the act of attacking) may be employed by state or federal agents in any phase of wolf management in the state.”
Of course, there’s rarely a state or federal agent around when you need one, but, even if there were, he or she would have to wait until the wolf has had his way with you before taking a shot.
The draft does allow “lethal control” for wolf depredation of livestock under some conditions.
Interestingly, these conditions have Prop 114 proponents calling foul, claiming the draft allows too many reasons for officials and ranchers to kill wolves.
Maybe these proponents figure that, if humans and their pets are fair prey, livestock should be, too.
According to Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, “This plan paves the way for far too many wolves to be shot … .”
If you ask me — and no one does — there won’t be nearly enough.
The draft also says wolves go where the food is. That’s not hard to understand. It’s part of what defines a predator.
That means wolves will eventually surround our communities, and the draft agrees, though not for the obvious reason: Moose are a preferred food source for the species of wolf planned for re-introduction.
Colorado moose are themselves a re-introduced species. CPW estimates about 3,000 moose statewide now, the result of re-introduction begun in the late 1970s and carefully fostered over many decades.
With Glenwood’s high, nearby concentrations of moose — and other ungulates — in 3 Mile and the Flattops Wilderness, wolves will come here.
Food sources the wolves like live nearby, for now.
The draft also describes protocols for wolves that establish dens within city limits: “The removal of a denning pack (within municipal boundaries) is allowed in all phases of wolf management but must be conducted by state or federal agents … .”
Apparently, wolf-pack dens within municipalities are enough of a possibility that the draft raises the subject.
What food sources, do you suppose, might wolves discover that would lead them to establish a den within Glenwood Springs city limits?
Maybe we should train our dogs to use litter boxes and get in the habit of driving our children to school right away.
No point in waiting until this December.
Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father, and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.
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