Safari Club International raises $140,000 to help defeat Colorado wolf ballot initiative
Safari Club International, the leader in defending the freedom to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide, raised an astounding $140,000 in response to a strategic call to action focused on the proposed forced reintroduction of wolves into Colorado.
Led by the Colorado delegation of SCI during last week’s 48th Annual SCI Convention, these funds will be utilized in the state to advance concerns surrounding the Colorado Wolf Ballot Initiative.
SCI hosted an educational seminar focused on the issue and the SCI board of directors also discussed a strategy and detailed course of action to address the threats posed by this issue and prevent the initiative from advancing. Chapters from across the country stepped up to help fund this effort and SCI will continue generating additional revenue for this fight until it is finished in November.
SCI will immediately begin engaging in a grassroots campaign led by Coloradoan’s Protecting Wildlife alongside our partners from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Colorado Farm Bureau, and the Colorado Woolgrowers Association. Interested parties are invited to view their website for more information on the “Rethink Wolves” campaign.
The proposed ballot measure would mandate the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop a plan to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado “using the best scientific data available” and “designed to resolve conflicts with persons engaged in ranching and farming.” According to documents obtained by Safari Club International through a Colorado Open Records Act request, the reintroduction effort would cost Colorado Parks and Wildlife approximately $6 million dollars through the first eight years of implementation, with additional yearly expenses topping over three-quarters of a million dollars annually.
“Wildlife management by ballot box is a horrible precedent to set,” said Ben Cassidy, director of government affairs for SCI. “Wildlife management decisions should be made by the biologists, wildlife managers and scientists who have the expertise and experience to make decisions that will affect Colorado’s wildlife and those who enjoy that wildlife.”
Aside from the obvious safety concern of releasing wolves into a rapidly growing state that already boasts 6 million residents, the ballot effort has raised red flags in the hunting community. Forcing the sudden presence of an apex predator into the ecosystem would likely have disastrous effects on the large ungulate populations for which Colorado is famous.
Fewer elk and mule deer from predation means fewer hunting tags available for resident and non-resident hunters. Such a reduction in tags and the hunting licenses required to purchase the tags would result in a loss of revenue for CPW for management of wildlife and habitat. Over time, this could impact the federal funding the state of Colorado receives through the Pittman-Robertson Act, which distributes funds based on the number of hunters a state has for the purpose of wildlife management.
Hunters are joined in their concern by the agricultural community who fear that wolf predation on livestock could damage an industry that contributes more than $4 billion a year into the state. Lastly, there are also Endangered Species Act implications. Wolves are an endangered species and will continue to be so until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delists them.
Safari Club International will continue to monitor this situation and will be involved in every way we can to ensure state management authority isn’t undermined at the ballot box. To receive important updates and alerts about not only this ballot issue in Colorado, but other important fights around the country sign up for SCI’s Hunter Advocacy Action Center at https://p2a.co/r2682hs?iframe=1. ❖