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Moffat County continues push against wolves, no plans to join Rio Blanco in ’sanctuary’ stance

A gray wolf in captivity.
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Following a call to join Rio Blanco’s Wolf Reintroduction Sanctuary stance, Moffat County commissioners stated that while they remain steadfast in the opposition of wolves, they will not be joining in on Rio Blanco’s resolution, instead focusing their efforts on requesting a local governmental role in the planning process.

Rio Blanco’s resolution stated the county would allow for the natural migration and repopulation of Gray Wolves, but would not allow for artificially introduced wolves, further stating that “designated lands” for artificial reintroduction must not include Rio Blanco County or any other county in the state that adopts the Sanctuary County Resolution.

Testifying against wolves in Northwest Colorado

Bohrer has testified on Moffat County’s behalf on HB21-1037 concerning a limitation on the designated lands onto which gray wolves may be reintroduced – specifically only introducing them in the counties where they approved the reintroduction and counties with no other introduced species, as well as HB21-1040, concerning the requirement that the costs associated with the reintroduction of gray wolves in the state be paid exclusively from the general fund while not using any sportsmen dollars to pay for predation damages caused by the gray wolves.

Commissioner Broom has testified on Moffat County’s behalf on SB21-105 regarding the implementation of Proposition 114 concerning the restoration of gray wolves in Colorado and the processes for public participation, reintroduction and management financing plans, and more.

Additionally, Commissioners Broom, Villard, and Bohrer as well as Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock, have all applied for a position on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s SAG for wolf reintroduction and management.

Under the Rio Blanco County Resolution, the five counties who approved Proposition 114 (Pitkin, Summit, San Miguel, San Juan and La Plata counties) would be considered to be designated lands by the terms defined by the ballot measure.

Moffat County will not join in on the sanctuary stance, according to commissioners Donald Broom, Melody Villard and Tony Bohrer, who stated during the March 30 commissioners’ meeting that the resolution “has no teeth to it.”

Following the adoption of the resolution in Rio Blanco, community members in Moffat County have asked local elected officials if they would take a stance on the wolves.

On Tuesday, the three commissioners sent out a press release citing their work regarding the forced wolf reintroduction in Colorado.

Bohrer, Broom and Villard cited participation in a weekly strategic call, monthly coordinated planning, testifying on legislation, and an application to Colorado Parks and Wildlife Stakeholder Advisory Group as ways they are working to combat the reintroduction of wolves in Colorado, following a narrow passage of Proposition 114 in November 2020; however, of the 64 counties in the state, just 13 cast an affirmative vote. Additionally, just five counties on the Western Slope approved the proposition.

In the weekly strategic call, commissioners have been participating with Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) since the passage of Prop 114. The meetings are focused on ensuring that the counties affected by this legislation continue to have a seat at the table in the planning process.

Commissioners have also participated in monthly meetings with Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI), Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Gibbs, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow.

This stakeholder group, which is working alongside CCI’s statewide membership, and with the support of partner stakeholders through Club 20, AGNC, the Colorado Woolgrowers Association, and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is actively seeking strategies to maximize local expertise and input to ensure the final plan is thoughtful and respectful of local land/property/business owners with an emphasis on the local land use plans that have been created through public processes that offer guidance on both state and federal land management.

Arguably the most impactful work by the commissioners is focused on legislation, which Bohrer and Broom have done in recent months.

Additionally, Commissioners Broom, Villard, and Bohrer as well as Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock, have all applied for a position on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s SAG for wolf reintroduction and management.

Citing all the work commissioners are doing behind the scenes regarding the reintroduction of wolves, Moffat County commissioners state that they remain steadfast in their opposition to wolf reintroductions.

“Moffat County feels that making that statement through a coordinated effort may be most impactful, and that continuing to request a local governmental role in the planning process is the most effective use of our resources at this time,” the commissioners said in a joint statement.

Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or jcarney@craigdailypress.com.