Business organizations speak out against wolf initiative

Coloradans Protecting Wildlife

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Joining the growing chorus of individuals, counties and organizations concerned about forced wolf introduction in Colorado, a number of the state’s leading chambers of commerce and business associations have voted to officially oppose Proposition 114 and join Colorado Farm Bureau in asking voters to Rethink Wolves in November.

Proposition 114 is the ballot measure that would introduce wolves into western Colorado. Dozens of organizations and 39 county governments from across Colorado are already opposed to this measure. Citing the negative economic consequences of forced wolf introduction, the following organizations have joined Colorado Farm Bureau and Coloradans Protecting Wildlife in opposing this reckless initiative.

• Action 22 (southern Colorado)

• Club 20 (western Colorado)

• Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

• Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors

• Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce

• Pro 15 (northeastern Colorado)

In opposing Proposition 114, Denver Metro Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough said, “The State of Colorado has a $1.6 billion deficit that it had to close this year already and doesn’t have the financial resources to manage the proactive reintroduction of wolves and what is required of Proposition 114. Further, wolves are naturally returning to our state with evidence of wolves found in northwestern Colorado. We encourage voters to support our ranchers and our economy by voting ‘no’ on Proposition 114.”

One industry that will suffer if Proposition 114 is successful is Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry. As an apex predator, wolves will drastically reduce elk and deer herds that are already suffering in many parts of the state, leading to decreased hunting and wildlife viewing. According to Christian Reece, executive director of Club 20, “Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching generate more than $3 billion in economic activity to Colorado every year. Our Western Slope economies can’t afford to take the chance of introducing a species with zero study on the potential economic impacts. Voters shouldn’t gamble with Colorado’s economy and environment.”

Colorado has a proud tradition of collaboratively solving complex statewide issues. Wolves should be no different. Katie Kruger, CEO of the Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors said, “We invest in policies that reinforce the Colorado Way, or proposals that are drafted through the hard work of gaining diverse input and reviewing critical data from a variety of industries.” She sees Proposition 114 as a shortcut around the Colorado Way, resulting in “a proposal with unintended consequences.”

One reason Pro 15 opposes the ballot measure is that Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the experts on wolves in Colorado, have studied wolf introduction extensively and have decided against reintroduction four times. “This initiative sets a dangerous precedent by turning the management of wildlife over to the shifting winds of politics. We shouldn’t risk the health of our wildlife and our economy by politicizing science. Vote NO on 114,” said Cathy Schull, executive director of Pro 15.

Additionally, these business organizations are worried about state and local government budgets and the cost of implementing Proposition 114. Earlier this year, lawmakers were forced to cut the state budget by $3.3 billion, including cuts to education and transportation. Local governments across Colorado are also facing severe budget shortfalls. Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce summarizes the issue well. “State and local budgets have been slashed due to COVID-19, impacting schools and other essential services. Western Colorado has suffered from a record-breaking fire season. We must focus on strengthening our economy, not making things even worse by introducing wolves,” said Schwenke.

As these organizations make clear, Proposition 114 will have serious economic ramifications and unintended consequences that will negatively impact all Coloradans. Colorado’s business community joins with 39 Colorado counties and Coloradans Protecting Wildlife to encourage voters to VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 114. ❖