Victory! Colorado Approves Reintroduction Of Endangered Gray Wolves Bringing Hope To Their Species Throughout The West
An unprecedented state ballot initiative requiring wildlife officials to reintroduce endangered gray wolves in Colorado passed Tuesday’s election with a 20,000-vote majority and hundreds of pro-wolf precincts left to be counted. Opponents conceded that the measure has passed.
Proposition 114 requires Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop a wolf restoration and management plan based on science and statewide public hearings. Reintroduction to areas west of the Continental Divide must begin by December 31st, 2023.
“Since time immemorial wolves were one of the most influential animals in shaping the ecology of Colorado’s forests and grasslands,” Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity told WAN. “Federal wolf poisoning and trapping on behalf of the livestock industry a century ago continues today to harm a myriad of other animal and plant species. Colorado voters wisely decided to begin to undo that harm.”
“This is a great victory for wolves coming on the heels of Trump’s illegal action to remove federal protection, and it will help restore the natural balance in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains,” Robinson also noted in a statement. “The people of Colorado have helped turn the page on a brutal chapter of our history that saw wolves exterminated across the West.”
Throughout the pandemic, hundreds of volunteers campaigned statewide for Proposition 114, staffing phone banks and waving banners along roads. The livestock industry bitterly opposed the measure and spent heavily on anti-wolf advertising.
Reintroducing gray wolves to Colorado will restore the species in a key portion of its range between existing populations of wolves in the northern Rockies, as well as critically imperiled Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico and Arizona. Mexican wolves could benefit from occasional interbreeding with northern wolves.
“Wolves are the engine of evolution for terrestrial ecosystems, and their return to Colorado will benefit deer and elk herds, the health of our forests, songbirds, and even rare wolverines,” said Robinson.
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