CPW releases first gray wolf reintroduction plan
By Owen Woods | firstname.lastname@example.org
COLORADO Parks and Wildlife released its first draft for the gray wolf reintroduction plan on Friday. The 293-page draft was presented by experts and wildlife officials during a four-hour livestream.
The first phase of the plan is to reintroduce 30-50 wolves from neighboring states over three to five years. The wolves will be brought into areas west of the Continental Divide. CPW says the wolves will eventually start to migrate and move throughout the state.
Gray wolves were relisted as an endangered species in February of this year. This reintroduction effort could help to restore populations of wolves to more sustainable levels.
This movement has raised concerns with farmers and ranchers, but CPW has put a series of steps in place to ensure ranchers can be compensated for any livestock loss. Livestock and pet loss will be evaluated and investigated on a case-by-case basis. Non-lethal deterrents will be looked at first, with lethal action being a last resort.
The wolves are expected to keep ungulates (deer and elk) within healthy population ranges. This could also mean shortened hunting seasons.
Feedback can be submitted online here. There will be five public meetings held after the first of the year. A final draft for the plan is expected by April 2023. Implementation of the plan doesn’t have to start until December 2023.
The gray wolf reintroduction was part of the Proposition 114 ballot initiative that was narrowly passed in 2020.
Gray wolves were native to Colorado until the 1940s when they were eradicated. No laws prohibited the capture, trapping, and hunting of the predator species at that time.
Although wolves will be moving throughout the state, San Luis Valley CPW officials aren’t too concerned right now with wolves coming in and out of the Valley. During a public comment session in Aug. 2021 in Alamosa, officials said wolves will eventually come into the Valley, but it could be a while before they’re sighted.