After a year of waiting we finally have an idea of how Colorado Parks and Wildlife may go about reintroducing wolves into the state and we think, if we have to have wolves, the recommended speed of reintroduction is reasonable.
The technical working group, made up of experts that was formed to advise CPW, has recommended taking a slower approach, introducing 10 to 15 wolves a year over three years then pausing to see if the population will become self-sustaining. It did not favor the slowest pace it considered, but also found a fast-paced reintroduction least favorable.
We were against the forced reintroduction of wolves into western Colorado and don’t think it should have ever been put to a vote. This is an issue that should have been decided by biologists and the state legislature. However, it was put up to a vote and did pass narrowly.
Since the state has to follow the voters, wolves will be introduced on the Western Slope. We’re glad CPW has heard some of the concerns from the people that will be impacted by this reintroduction effort and we urge them to take the recommendation of the technical working group and approach reintroduction in a slow, measured manner.
There is no reason to throw 40 wolves onto the landscape all at once. A slow, small reintroduction is the best way to go forward, as it gives us the option, if things aren’t working out, to change the approach or even halt reintroduction altogether.
“It is important to be flexible and adapt the specific logistics of these paces according to conditions of the reintroduction. It is also important to be adaptive around specific dates and numbers,” the group said, as reported by The Sentinel’s Dennis Webb.
This is excellent advice coming from the group. Flexibility and caution are critical when we’re talking about bringing an apex predator back to Colorado.
Their advice to fit every wolf brought into Colorado with a collar is spot-on as well. We need to be able to track as many Colorado wolves as possible, so they can be monitored and any problems, be it predation of livestock or threats to humans, can be dealt with quickly.
The idea that the wolves would be sourced from states that permit hunting, so the wolves may already have a natural fear of humans, is an excellent strategy. Overall the group’s advice seems like the best-case scenario we could have hoped for, given the outcome of the vote.
While we agree with what the technical working group has come up with, we are worried by the lack of transparency from them. Meetings of the technical working group are not open to the public, though a summary of their meetings are posted online at wolfengagementco.org/advisory-groups.
This group includes scientists, land managers and even elected officials. Why not have the meetings open for anyone interested to watch? The stakeholder advisory group, which is also providing feedback to CPW on wolf reintroduction, is open to the public.
Reintroduction of wolves is a big issue for people on the Western Slope, especially in agricultural areas where livelihoods are on the line. Some people still feel like they aren’t being heard and their concerns aren’t taken seriously. Having one of the groups helping to advise CPW in the process operating behind closed doors does not help that perception.
While the recommendations from the group, so far, have been solid, they need to be operating much more transparently. This is too important for any piece of the process to be opaque.
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial board