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Wise reintroduction plan should respect wolves, ranching

The recent wolf killing of a calf in Jackson County is both a hard loss for a ranching family and a reminder of the importance of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s job in creating a wolf reintroduction management plan that works for all of us.

Where wolves and livestock coexist in North America today, wolf predation accounts for about 0.01% of annual cattle losses; that’s 1 out of every 10,000 animals. Far more livestock are lost to disease, bad weather, accidents, etc.

Wolf advocates such as myself must recognize, however, that these losses, while minor in the big picture, have emotional and financial consequences for livestock producers who experience them. As wolf reintroduction begins in 2023 – in accordance with passage of Proposition 114 – proactive, nonlethal measures to deter wolf predation will be available. When confirmed depredation incidents do happen, ranchers should and will be compensated. CPW’s plan to restore and manage gray wolves must include a robust compensation provision that ranchers can count on to aid them when appropriate.

Wolves, like all wildlife, are a public resource that belong to all of us – and wolves belong in Colorado. The ecological successes of wolf restoration in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are well-documented. Such vital conservation benefits can become part of Colorado’s future as well. With a wisely crafted management plan that respects both wolves and ranching families, a new era of ecological vitality, and of human-predator coexistence, will be one we can all celebrate.

Clint McKnight