Judging from several news clips and articles in newspapers, the emotional support to introduce wolves to Colorado is apparent.
Back in July of 2018, one college-level educator wrote in a Sentinel op-ed that “deer, elk and antelope watched as invaders (meaning ranchers unloading livestock on a grazing permit) took over their food source and they (the wildlife) were displaced to search for their survival on the remnants.”
In my opinion, it was an emotional, absurd and unknowledgeable statement. The same adjunct professor stated that bison, eagles, and wolves were exterminated so that the livestock industry could graze their cattle and sheep unmanaged, which is far from the truth. Bison were reduced by employees of the railroad for food for the construction workers. The railroad was needed for an expanding human population moving into a pristine countryside. Eagles were found to ingest lead shot causing soft eggs, and also died from pesticide exposure — not killed by ranchers. (These problems have been remedied and eagles are plentiful today).
Wolves were found to be destructive, especially to livestock in the early 1900s. Wolves were removed by several entities including government hunters, bounty hunters, ranchers and farmers, state games agencies, and almost anyone that had reason or opportunity to do so due mainly to the fact that game populations were almost non-existent in the early 1900s.
It must be noted that farmers and ranchers own and manage large sections of western Colorado that our wildlife depends on for survival during much of the year, mainly in winter periods. We would be in dire straits without them. Big game herds are managed with population objectives in mind to accommodate the same population during winter months. Summer range on public lands is not the reason objectives are set.
A television program shows people playing with wolves. Earlier this year, a wolf attacked a child in Canada, nearly killing him. Such programs only gives the public a false sense of what wolves are about — not the true intended nature of the animal. If you think transplanted wolves will stay where you put them, you are sadly mistaken. Estes Park, you are next.
Montana, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming have had major losses of deer, elk, and moose due to the depredations of wolves. Their economies have suffered as well as the sportsmen. One needs to consider how this will affect your livelihood, and recreational experiences, especially in western Colorado.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife values each harvested animal at a significant amount to the state economy ( somewhere between $5,000 to $8,000). If deer, elk, and moose are reduced by wolves, will wolf advocates pay for each big game animal killed by wolves?
Organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Big Horn Sheep Foundation, Audubon Society, and Rocky Mountain Goat Foundation and others, all contribute millions of dollars each year to provide and protect habitat for their specific interest. In doing so, habitat for hundreds of other species benefit in the process. I do not know of any intent from these organizations to support reintroduction of wolves to Colorado. For almost a century now, people in many states have contributed funds to these organizations to protect and create habitat mainly for big game and waterfowl. Many other species have benefitted from this effort. I don’t have it in mind to introduce a species that will destroy what we have built to date.
As a note of interest, the general public does not know how many bears are taken each year because they prey on livestock or other things such as bee hives, pets, orchards or bird feeders. Sportsmen are paying for this because emotions are setting their seasons. If hunters were allowed to take these bears, they would not be left in the field to rot, put in a dump, buried or quietly disposed of. Use of edible portions and animal parts could be obtained and a license fee made to CPW. Check with the federal animal control people if you do not believe this. Today, if a bear show predatory behavior toward people, cabins, cars, livestock or other personal property, it is put down. The same should be said for wolves.
A referendum is in place to introduce wolves into western Colorado and all voters in the state will vote on this issue.
If it passes, then management of wolves should come from the state’s general fund, not CPW funds.
Proponents of wolves in other Western states have not fairly paid for loss of livestock as promised or the loss of hundreds of deer, elk, and moose which affects the economy of western Colorado.
Advocates for wolves say the Colorado wildlife agency will complete a management plan. Colorado Parks and Wildlife isn’t funded by tax dollars. The portsman’s dollar will be spent for management of these animals. The introduction of wolves into our current management schemes will be a detriment to the wildlife of western Colorado and the ranching element.
The aforementioned states all pay hundreds of thousands of dollars dealing with wolf problems. As I understand it, the Endangered Species Act does not allow consideration of economic factors when listing or introducing a species. The Trump administration recently considered changing this section of the act to include economic factors. I support this action as reasonable.
I would recommend two excellent sources of factual information available to help understand what is currently taking place concerning wolf introduction and the concerns and problems related to the issue: “The Real Wolf” by Ted Lyon and Will Graves and on the internet, www.coloradostopthewolfcoalition.
The September/October 2019 issue of Bugle Magazine (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) also contains an informational article.
You might not agree with me, but it is important to be informed of the facts. This is a vote you will have to live with.
Bob Clark was a district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife for more than 35 years. He played an instrumental role in reintroducing moose to Colorado. He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and was chairman of the Montrose chapter of Duck Unlimited from 1974 to 1998. He lives in Cedaredge.