In western Colorado, wary ranchers eye wolves’ arrival and fear urban voters will introduce more |

In western Colorado, wary ranchers eye wolves’ arrival and fear urban voters will introduce more

Ballot measure to widen wolves’ comeback could threaten partnership between conservation community and agriculture

Bruce Finley, The Denver Post

COLD SPRINGS MOUNTAIN — A lone black heifer wailed, wandering into white mist as night fell across a sage-studded plateau in the middle of where a wolf pack has moved into northwestern Colorado.

Rancher T. Wright Dickinson looked on, frowning, aggrieved — an arch conservative westerner whose family has run cattle here since 1885 on high country spanning three states that ranks among the last large open landscapes.

He’d turned this heifer loose for grazing through spring-fed meadows where deer, pronghorn antelope and elk roam. It’s destined to be beef for city dwellers who shop at Whole Foods but, for now, Dickinson emphasized, a moral duty obligates him to protect his herd.

“They are vulnerable,” he said. “We’re very concerned about how this relationship with wolves is going to be.”

The goodwill of ranchers like Dickinson, main tenants in still-wild parts of the West and key players in preserving open space, looms as a casualty in the push to re-establish wolves in Colorado.


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