We are members of a group that have studied wildlife and wildlife habitat issues, and their convergence with a myriad of other Western Colorado landscape challenges. We understand the importance of finding solutions that meet both public and private needs; wildland and multiple use goals; and finding that economic sweet spot for the diverse towns and counties on the Western Slope. We wish to share our perspectives with new neighbors and those who live in the urban areas of Colorado.
As fellow co-chairmen, we represent policy groups within Club 20 (www.club20.org) that delve into issues specific to agriculture, public lands and natural resources, and tourism and outdoor recreation. Our resolution PLNR-20-1 Proposed Wolf Introduction is on this website to provide a comprehensive analysis of this issue.
We have studied and followed the wolf reintroduction idea for years. We have studied endangered species, reintroduction of lynx and moose, protection of habitat for sage grouse, fragmentation of habitat across both public and private lands; and very importantly have developed a knowledge about and deep appreciation for the experts working within Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and their associated wildlife biologists working for the USFS and BLM.
We would like to share our conclusions:
1. We fully support the guidance from our state Colorado wildlife experts and their conclusions. In 1982 and 1989, the Colorado Wildlife Commission adopted resolutions opposing wolf introduction in Colorado. In 2016, the Colorado Wildlife Commission adopted an updated resolution (Resolution 16-01) that opposes the intentional release of any wolves into Colorado.
The resolution further supports the May 2005 Colorado Wolf Management Working Group Recommendations for Managing Wolves that Migrate into Colorado, which remains in effect as guidance to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
2. We do not support ballot-initiated wildlife management directives that do not and cannot take into account the ramifications and possible devastation to other wildlife species that Coloradans value and wish to protect (moose, mule deer, elk, lynx).
3. We understand that a state like Colorado with a growing population and with exponentially increasing recreation pressures needs to proceed wisely in changing wildlife management direction.
4. We recognize that there are costly economic consequences from this ballot measure, and the potentially expensive direct and indirect costs to those living and working in Western Colorado are not calculated in this initiative.
5. We care deeply about the unintended consequences to local communities including ranchers, hunters, guiders and outfitters and the interconnected agriculture and recreation economies when wolf introduction negatively impacts their livelihoods and lifestyles.
6. Much of the impetus behind this measure comes from out-of-state interests infusing more than $1 million into this campaign, and we doubt they know much about Western Colorado economies, habitat, and risks to the ecological balance that is integrally known to those of us who live, work and provide stewardship of our lands.
Wolves continue to be documented in Colorado, including a sighting by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist, of an adult wolf with a pup. With an initial cost of $6 million for wolf introduction, a state budget deficit of $3 billion, and record unemployment due to COVID-19, public dollars would be better spent elsewhere.
Please vote no on Proposition 114. Let natural migration unfold without interference from a forced wolf introduction and trust our state Colorado wildlife experts who have a proven track record of protecting all wildlife.
This column is by Club 20 Public Lands Committee Co-Chairs Brad McCloud and Nancy Fishering; Agriculture Committee Co-Chairs Les Mergelman and Ron Velarde. Club 20 is a coalition of people, businesses, tribal and local governments in Colorado’s 22 western counties.