New engagement report outlines range of public opinion on wolf restoration
A recently released summary of public input on Colorado’s wolf restoration and management plan highlights the diverse range of opinions on the topic along with a couple areas for common ground.
The Keystone Policy Center has released the Wolf Restoration and Management Plan Summer 2021 Public Engagement Report, summarizing the input received during public engagement activities conducted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Keystone over the summer.
The report is part of CPW’s process to introduce gray wolves onto the Western Slope for Proposition 114, a ballot initiative that passed last year. Proposition 114 directs CPW to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado by Dec. 31, 2023.
Keystone and CPW explained in a joint release that while the report details the perspectives gathered during the summer engagement effort, it does not draw conclusions on specific restoration and management strategies.
Engagement questions detailed in the report were structured around restoration logistics, management of wolves once reintroduced, considerations of livestock interactions, and a look at the public planning and engagement process.
According to the release, CPW and Keystone engaged more than 3,400 participants through 47 meetings and an online comment form. The meetings included 16 in-person public open houses throughout the state, 17 in-person Western Colorado geographic focus groups, 10 virtual interest-based focus groups, two in-person tribal consultations, and two virtual town halls.
The release describes the report as capturing the diverse public perspectives toward wolf restoration and management, which often reflect the differing approaches concerning management of public lands and wildlife, particularly predators. Differences are reflected on topics like maximum population thresholds; legal hunting of wolves; lethal management of conflict wolves; management strategies related to public lands; the decision by voters to restore wolves to the state; and representation in decision processes on wolf restoration and management.
The report also suggests potential principles for common ground, including the desire to incorporate science and diverse ecological, social and economic interests; provide an adaptive management model; proactively prevent conflict and fairly compensate for livestock losses; offer educational resources; value engagement and partnerships; and build sustainable capacity and funding.
The report will be presented to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission on Thursday at its meeting in Lamar. The report is available to the public at https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Commission/2021/November/Item.21-Keystone_Summer_2021_Wolf_Engagement_Report.pdf.
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