OUT: Cattlemen’s group opposes reintroduction of wolves

A petition to bring wolves back to Colorado has been met with opposition from the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

The petition, filed last week by WildEarth Guardians, asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop recovery plans for gray wolves in the southern Rockies. Four areas in Colorado, including the Flat Tops north of Glenwood Springs, are targeted for the reintroduction, said the group, because those areas offer the best chance to establish viable populations.

“We believe that the southern Rockies need wolves, and wolves definitely need the southern Rockies,” said Rob Edward, carnivore recovery director for WildEarth Guardians.

But the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association isn’t so sure.

Claiming the petition is “driven by the faulty assumption” that wolves are required for a healthy ecosystem, the Cattlemen’s Association said in a news release the current population of predators, including mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, lynx and humans “can be effectively managed to appropriately contain prey species within carrying capacities.”

Also, the association said there is potential for conflict between wolves and humans as well as conflicts with livestock.

“Particularly problematic are interactions between wolf populations and domestic livestock populations,” said Amy Bader, director of the Arvada-based association.

Bader noted that in states where wolf reintroductions include damage payments to livestock growers, “the ranching community has, for the most part, not been totally satisfied with the resolutions of the conflicts.”

Wolves officially were exterminated in Colorado by 1954, when the last known wolf in the state was killed near Parlin Flats east of Gunnison.


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