Ranchers to be compensated up to $8,000 for each head lost to wolf depredation, according to Parks and Wildlife officials | SkyHiNews.com

Ranchers to be compensated up to $8,000 for each head lost to wolf depredation, according to Parks and Wildlife officials

This and more to be covered during Feb. 7 wolf restoration meeting in Rifle

Ray K. Erku
Glenwood Springs Post-Independent
Colorado Parks and Wildlife released this photo of the first gray wolf born and collared in Colorado on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Parks and Wildlife officials plan to offer up to $8,000 for each livestock animal directly lost due to wolf depredation.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Eric Odell

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is coming to Rifle next week to discuss and collect public feedback over the state’s contentious plan to restore gray wolves in its ecosystem.

The meeting is slated from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College Rifle, located at 3695 Airport Road. Anyone who can’t attend the meeting in-person but are interested in making a public comment can fill out a form online, at EngageCPW.org. The deadline for filling out and submitting this public comment document is Feb. 22.

Parks and Wildlife Public Information Officer Rachael Gonzales said people showing up to the Rifle meeting in-person will be allowed to speak on a first-come, first-served basis.

“They’ll show up, sign up and in the order they signed up in is the order they’ll provide public comment,” she said.

The meeting will be led by Reid DeWalt and Eric Odell, two officials tasked with creating the Draft Wolf Restoration and Management Plan. This plan, found on Parks and Wildlife’s website, details exactly how officials will regulate a self-sustaining population of gray wolves in Colorado. Parks and Wildlife Game Damage Manager Luke Hoffman is also attending.

“The plan is predicated on managing wolves in Colorado using an impact-based management framework,” DeWalt, an assistant director for aquatic, terrestrial and natural resources, told the Parks and Wildlife Commission last month. “We expect that the vast majority of wolves are not going to be impacted in any kind of conflict anywhere in the state.”

The plan itself stems from a petition created in 2019 by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, a citizen-led group based in Louisville. The effort received enough signatures and Colorado voters narrowly passed Proposition 114 for the reintroduction of wolves during the November 2020 election.

Ever since, the effort has raised several concerns from ranchers and environmentalists both for and against the plan. Some environmentalists are still skeptical of the plan to potentially put down wolves that attack livestock. Meanwhile, one major concern from ranchers is that wolves could affect their bottom line.

Parks and Wildlife Commission Chair Carrie Besnette Hauser said last month that the goal is to develop a plan that the majority of the public will support and one that represents reasonable compromise.

“This is historic for Colorado,” she said. “And we will do it well.”

Parks and Wildlife has held two meetings over the reintroduction plan so far, one in Colorado Springs on Jan. 19 and another in Gunnison on Jan. 25. Two more meetings will be held in addition to the Rifle meeting: one virtually, and one in-person in Denver.

Each meeting addresses issues like nonlethal conflict mitigation, as well as potential compensation Parks and Wildlife will provide in the event a wolf attacks livestock.

Odell, a Species Conservation Program Manager and biological lead for the wolf project, said Parks and Wildlife is offering up to $8,000 per head directly lost due to wolf depredation.

“CPW has developed additional compensation options to address missing calves and sheep,” he said last month.

Parks and Wildlife will provide a final draft plan with proposed regulations in Steamboat Springs on April 6. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is set to vote on the final plan May 3-4 in Glenwood Springs.

This story is from PostIndependent.com.

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