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CPW Commission hears SAG draft, public comment on wolves

The Stakeholders Advisory Group delivered their draft report and recognize that wolves have both positive and negative impacts and will be allowed to remain where they are if they’re not causing problems. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Julie Shapiro, Keystone Policy Center, said the process of Stakeholders Advisory Group and Technical Working Group and are nearing an end as the two groups prepare to deliver their final recommendations with regard to wolf introduction in Colorado.

Shapiro told the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission this week the four major categories the groups have been deliberating include restoration logistics, livestock compensation and conflict minimizations, management (TWG — recovery metrics and down listing/delisting metrics and SAG concentrating on impact-based management framework) and outreach/education.

The SAG delivered their draft report and recognize that wolves have both positive and negative impacts and will be allowed to remain where they are if they’re not causing problems. Proactive measures, they said, should be used to avoid conflict including education, non-lethal methods. If wolves are causing problems. She said the management should be on a case-by-case basis with a combination of management tools including lethal take and damage payments.



The SAG also finalized recommendations for funding with three mechanisms recommended: appropriation from the Colorado State Legislature of up to $3 million annually, CPW wolf-specific fund made possible through public and private funding sources, and external endowment fund with input from CPW specifically to fund non-lethal conflict management.

She said the TWG has also finalized their conversations and final reports and executive summaries from both groups will be forthcoming. Both the SAG and TWG will compile final reports for the CPW Commission’s consideration.



Eric Odell, species conservation program manager, CPW, is the biological lead for wolves in Colorado. He said as the wolf population grows, wolves will move, based on population thresholds recommended by the TWG, from state endangered to state threatened to state delisted/nongame.

SAG CONSENSUS

With regard to livestock interactions, the SAG reached consensus on: allowance of lethal control by state and federal agents and by producers or their agents for wolves caught in the act of biting, wounding, grasping, or killing livestock or working dogs. State statute CRS 33-2-106.4 requires permits for lethal control of a state listed species (in Phases 1 and 2), as well as reporting and investigation. Discretion to CPW to make determination as to whether a situation is characterized as chronic depredation, and if so, what management actions should be taken, including whether lethal take should be allowed; allowance of lethal control of chronically depredating wolves following depredation event(s), after evaluation of circumstances, by state and federal agents across all phases and by producers with limited duration permits in Phase 3 (correlating with state delisted, nongame); no allowance of translocation of wolves when present but not causing conflict or when livestock depredation occurs.

Fourteen out of 15 SAG voting members (Darlene Kobobel cast the dissenting vote.) supported or did not object to the following: allowance of lethal take of chronically depredating wolves by a producer or agent with a limited duration permit in Phases 1 and 2 (state endangered and threatened); allowance of lethal control by state/federal agents for wolves caught in the act of chasing in all Phases, and by producers or their agents, with permit and prior depredation in area required in Phases 1 and 2.

With regard to other wildlife species interactions, the SAG reached consensus: allowance for consideration of translocation of wolves in Phases 1, 2, and 3, with considerations, when ungulate populations are significantly below objectives in a geographic unit or area (i.e., data analysis unit, or DAU) and/or for impacts to other species of concern (e.g., grouse, lynx, etc.).

SAG members did not have consensus regarding lethal control of specific wolves or wolf packs confirmed by CPW to be having an unacceptable impact on wild ungulate populations in a geographic unit or area or to be significantly reducing or likely to extirpate other species of concern. SAG members reached consensus to allow lethal control of wolves involved in attacks on humans; allow removal of a wolf pack denning within municipal boundaries or high-density population areas; do not allow regulated public hunting of wolves in Phases 1, 2, and 3; allow additional provisions for agency operations, typically involving agreements and arrangements where state and federal wildlife agencies work in cooperation towards wildlife management activities.

Over 30 individuals provided public comment to the commission. Alma Sanchez with Wild Earth Guardians said that group’s comments were meant to add to the CPW process rather than to discount the work that has already been done. She reiterated that the state, in the opinion of Wild Earth Guardians, can support a minimum of 750 wolves with a positive impact on the state.

Aubyn Royall with HSUS said she supports the Wild Earth Guardian wolf plan and adamantly opposes lethal take of wolves.

A large number of commenters encouraged the commission to take seriously the recommendations of the SAG and TWG groups, including allowing lethal control for chronic depredating wolves.

Callie Hendrickson said she is concerned with the economic impact to Rio Blanco County and the surrounding areas that depend upon agriculture and hunting. She said she values the work of SAG and TWG and hopes their recommendations will be respected.

“We have to remember that if we put agriculture producers out of business, we are not going to have all of that open space that the rest of our wildlife appreciates and makes use of as well,” she said.

Janie VanWinkle called the Wild Earth Guardian plan propaganda, and said it should not be confused with the plan that the SAG and TWG groups are working toward officially that will be presented to the commission. Brita Horn also criticized the Wild Earth Guardians plan, saying the group should have provided input through the process stakeholders have engaged in.

SAG members include: Matt Barnes, Donald Broom, Jenny Burbey, Bob Chastain, Renee Deal, Adam Gall, Dan Gates, John Howard, Francie Jacober, Lenny Klinglesmith, Darlene Kobobel, Tom Kourlis, Brian Kurzel, Hallie Mahowald, Jonathan Proctor, Gary Skiba, and Steve Whiteman. Ex officio members: Dan Gibbs, executive director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources; Les Owen, division director, Colorado Department of Agriculture (designee of Kate Greenberg, commissioner, Colorado Department of Agriculture); and Heather Dugan, acting director, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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