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How will Colorado handle wolves returning to the state?

HOWLColorado : Wolf Facts Colorado actually established a Colorado Wolf Management Working Group in 2004 after a wolf was killed on I-70 in June of that year.

It is entirely likely there are wolves in Colorado today. Their nature is such that lone wolves will migrate long distances to find a new home. There was a sighting in 2007, which most experts believe was a wolf, about 10 miles south of the Colorado-Wyoming border. If that was indeed a wolf, it would likely still be alive and if it found a positive, suitable habitat to settle in, could well still be in Colorado.

However, there is no confirmed resident Colorado wolves. This did not stop Colorado pro-actively creating a plan on handling wolves, if they did ever migrate back into their original home. Wolves are Colorado animals, and the environment is naturally ideal for their survival, and would reintroduce a positive balancing factor to the ecosystem. Obviously, ranchers are not thrilled about the idea.

Below is the executive summary of the findings and recommendations of the Colorado Wolf Management Working Group, which were adopted by the Colorado Wildlife Division in May of 2005

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Dispersing wolves could enter Colorado as a result of expanding populations from
recovery programs to the north and south, as evidenced by a wolf killed on Interstate 70
in June of 2004.

In April of 2004, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) appointed
a 14-member Wolf Management Working Group (Working Group) to address
management of wolves in Colorado, composed of four livestock producers, four wildlife
advocates, two wildlife biologists, two sportsmen, and two local government officials.
The focus of the Working Group was on State management after the federal government
removes the wolf from the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Working Group met from June through December of 2004. They agreed to use
consensus for their deliberations and for recommendations in the final report.
The Working Group agreed that there would be both positive and negative impacts from
wolf presence in Colorado. Positive impacts could include restoration of ecological
systems and aesthetic contributions to the Colorado landscape, while negative impacts
could include depredation on domestic livestock and reduction of wild ungulate
populations.

The Working Group finalized their recommendations by consensus to the CDOW in the
following document.

Four guiding principles for wolf management were agreed upon:

Impact-Based Management: Address positive and negative impacts of wolf
presence.
Adaptive management: Learn by doing, monitor, and apply new knowledge.
Monitoring: Use various methods to track and understand wolf populations,
livestock depredation, wild ungulate populations, and human attitudes.
Damage Payments/Proactive Measures: Compensate for losses and encourage
methods to minimize livestock-wolf conflicts.

Specific recommendations include the following:

Migrating wolves should be allowed to live with no boundaries where they find
habitat. Wolf distribution in Colorado will ultimately be defined by the interplay
between ecological needs and social tolerance.
If wolves are causing problems, manage to resolve the problem. When negative
impacts occur, they should be addressed on a case-by-case basis utilizing a
combination of appropriate management tools and damage payments. Allow take of
wolves to manage depredations. Flexibility should be maintained in the array of
management tools available to accommodate changing circumstances over time.
These management tools include a variety of lethal and non-lethal methods
authorized under the Colorado Wildlife Commission regulation 1002.B.4 (federal
Endangered Species Act 4(d) rule) for wolves in the Western Distinct Population
Segment (WDPS).
Wolf monitoring is an essential component of the plan. Monitoring can be conducted
with different types of technology and at varying intensity levels based on local needs
and CDOW discretion.
It is in everyone’s best interest to work towards solutions that will avoid or mitigate
potential wolf-livestock conflicts. Opportunities should be available to livestock
producers to implement non-lethal management tools and other proactive measures to
reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflict.
The CDOW should operate a wolf damage fund for livestock losses. Funds should
not be derived from sportsmen’s dollars and should not encroach upon other game
damage payment programs. Payments should cover 100% of confirmed losses and
50% of probable losses.
The CDOW should, over time, bring the wolf into existing management programs
and policies for other carnivores, such as mountain lions and black bears.
The CDOW should work cooperatively with other agencies, organizations, and the
private sector to achieve wolf management goals in a proactive manner.
The CDOW should develop and implement an information, education and public
outreach program to parallel wolf management activities in Colorado.

The Working Group recommends that the CDOW implement the management policies
described in this document on behalf of the people of Colorado.

[read the entire document] – very large PDF file

One Response to “How will Colorado handle wolves returning to the state?”

  1. catbestland

    The group has not met since 2004?? I’d say the polital climate concerning wolves has certainly changed since then. Maybe it’s time to switch to an alternate plan. We need to get some paws on the ground in the Colorado high country!!!

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