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HomeScienceColorado solidifies scheme to reintroduce gray wolves yet an obstacle persists

Colorado solidifies scheme to reintroduce gray wolves yet an obstacle persists


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Colorado’s plan to capture and release dozens of wolves into the wilderness of the West Slope is now finalized, though the timeline could be hurt thanks to a bill proposed by area lawmakers.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved the state’s wolf recovery and management plan on Wednesday, more than two years after the narrow and controversial passage of Proposition 114.

Overall, state wildlife officials plan to capture between 30 and 50 gray wolves from other Rocky Mountain states over the next three to five years and release them all over Colorado’s Western Slope. Those wolves must farm what we hope will grow into a much larger and self-sufficient population, bringing back predators that were once hunted to extinction in the state generations ago.

The newly approved plan says state officials expect to begin releasing the coyotes in December. But a bill making its way through the statehouse could derail that plan by hanging on to reapplications for a specific designation of federal officials that has not yet been finalized.

This designation—under consideration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—would give Colorado officials authority to manage (capture, transport or even kill) wolves. State officials do not automatically have this power because wolves are a federally protected species and they need it because predators are expected to attack wildlife and pets. One wolf pack that migrated to the state was already there.

Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said last week that Fish and Wildlife officials have assured him they are on track to grant that authority by December. But he warned during last week’s House committee meeting that the measure — Senate Bill 23-256 — that demands the federal designation could derail the process and potentially delay resubmissions.

However, Western Slope lawmakers have argued that the potential delay is likely to last only a few months. That’s the price they’re willing to pay to ensure that state wildlife officials have the tools they need to deal with the predators their constituents don’t want in the first place.

The House passed the bill on Tuesday, which must return to the Senate for another vote before it heads to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk. The governor’s representatives did not say whether he supported the measure but in a statement released Wednesday he praised the now finalized re-application plan.

In a statement announcing the completion of the plan, Gibbs said the state remains on track to begin releasing wolves by the end of the year.

Along with the number of wolves to be released, the plan states that the state will pay up to $30,000 for animals (livestock, guard, or grazing) killed or injured by wolves.

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the quote: Colorado Cement Plan to Reintroduce Gray Wolves But a Hitch Remains (2023, May 4) Retrieved May 4, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-colorado-cements-reintroduce-gray-wolves.html

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