Grand County opposes reintroduction of wolves in Colorado

Last year, CPW officials investigated a reported gray wolf sighting in Jackson County, as well as one in Grand County.
Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Citing the potential harm to ranchers and outdoor recreation, Grand County commissioners are opposing a state ballot measure that, if approved, would reintroduce wolves in Colorado.

The Board of Grand County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday stating the county’s opposition to reintroducing gray wolves in the Western Slope.

“I can tell you that I’ve received phone calls and emails and text messages from people all over the state … and I’ve received zero calls saying we should support more wolves,” said Commissioner Merrit Linke.

“Hopefully, (the resolution is) a document the public can use, because it does have a lot of information in it and facts cited, when they make their decision at the ballot box.”

One of the reasons commissioners oppose the reintroduction of wolves is they believe wildlife and land management decisions should be made by professionals and experts.

The resolution notes that Colorado Parks and Wildlife previously passed resolutions opposing wolf reintroduction in 1982, 1989 and 2016, as well as in the agency’s wolf management recommendations adopted in 2005.

“Making fish and wildlife decisions by the ballot is a peculiar thing,” said County Attorney Chris Leahy.

Commissioners also stated their opposition to any plan that would harm products from the forest, energy, tourism, hunting, agriculture or outdoor recreation in the county.

The resolution specifically cited the “inevitable conflict” ranchers and outfitters will face if wolves are reintroduced to the region and a concern for tourists and outdoor recreators sharing space with an apex predator.

Money also factored into the commissioners’ opposition because it’s unclear what funding would be available for livestock losses. Also, there are concerns wolf management could take funding away from other CPW land management responsibilities. 

Finally, the resolution notes that wolves have already been documented in Colorado because of the success of reintroduction programs in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

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