Wolf proponents urged to withdraw ballot measure
DENVER — Numerous stakeholders in Colorado are urging proponents of Initiative 107— a ballot measure that would force the introduction of gray wolves in Colorado — to withdraw the measure due to repeated credible wolf sightings and Colorado’s economic fragility.
The economic consequences of COVID-19 are tearing through the state. As a result, legislators have been forced to cut $3.3 billion — more than 25 percent — from Colorado’s discretionary budget. After this massive budget cut, the state does not have the means to responsibly fund forced wolf introduction. The measure will directly cost nearly $6 million to execute and does not include new revenue to pay for its implementation. There will be additional indirect costs like lost hunting revenue.
Colorado Farm Bureau’s Vice President of Advocacy Shawn Martini, worries that forced wolf introduction will place additional pressure on Colorado’s already stressed economy. “Funding allocated to K-12 education, higher education, transportation, public safety, and the state pension fund has been slashed. Helping the state move forward requires us to prioritize, and wolf introduction should not be made a priority over services like education and infrastructure.”
Beyond being irresponsible, the ballot measure is unnecessary because wolves already live in the state. Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently provided an update on wolf activity. According to the update, this year has seen an uptick in reported wolf sightings. The update included additional confirmation of at least one wolf living in North Park, new credible sighting reports in Grand and Larimer counties, and additional confirmation of the pack in northwest Colorado.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the sighting in Larimer County is credible and wildlife managers are working to confirm it. Importantly, this sighting occurred east of the Continental Divide, making forced wolf introduction even less necessary. If wolves were to be introduced to the state, the introduction would be west of the Continental Divide, and over time, it is likely that those wolves would spread to the eastern parts of the state. The Larimer County sighting indicates that wolves are already spreading eastward naturally.
Because wolves are already naturally migrating into Colorado and spreading across the state, it is unnecessary to force the introduction of more. It would be irresponsible to spend valuable taxpayer dollars, especially given today’s economic reality, on a costly process that is already occurring without a price tag. Wolf proponents should immediately withdraw their ballot measure. ❖