Yesterday, Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund (RMWAF) delivered 210,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State to place restoration of wolves on Colorado’s 2020 statewide ballot.
“Colorado voters have made clear once again that they enthusiastically support restoring the natural balance to Colorado’s wild public lands.” Rob Edward, President of RMWAF, said in a statement. “The enthusiastic response from voters across the state for this initiative is not a surprise, since poll after poll during the past 20 years has shown that Coloradoans want to bring back the wolf.”
This is the first time that reintroduction of an endangered species has been initiated through a direct vote of the people. The initiative instructs Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop, after public input, a science-based plan for reintroducing wolves to Western Colorado by 2023. It also directs the Colorado General Assembly to develop a means to compensate ranchers for the small number of animals that could potentially be lost to wolves each year.
Edward shared that a recent poll commissioned by the RMWAF showed over two-thirds of Coloradans, including majorities in the Western Slope, as well as the Front Range, support a reintroduction.
Dr. Joanna Lambert, a professor of environmental studies and evolutionary ecology at the University of Colorado, underscored the fact that Initiative 107 has national significance, given that over 70% of Western Colorado belongs to the American public as national forests, national parks, and other public lands.
“Delivering these signatures is the first step toward restoring an interconnected population of wolves that stretches from the high Arctic southward to the Mexican border. Colorado will be the last of the Rocky Mountain states to bring wolves back to their historic range,” explained Lambert while expressing the importance of reintroducing wolves in Colorado for all of North America. “Many years of scientific inquiry and public involvement form the foundation of this initiative and direct democracy will give that science a voice.”
The wolf reintroduction initiative is supported by a large coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.
Caitlin Cattelino, the Denver-based National Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife, underscored the lessons learned from wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies.
“In the 25 years since wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies, they have indeed helped restore the natural balance while impacts to ranching and hunting have been minimal. In fact, elk populations in the Northern Rockies are as healthy as they have ever been in the last century,” stated Cattelino. “We can expect the same results here.”
“Many Colorado voters who signed these petitions understand that wolves help other species thrive,” echoed Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“It is time to restore the Gray wolf to Colorado’s wild public lands. This is a historic moment for Coloradans and wolves,” said Darlene Kobobel, one of the two official proponents of the wolf reintroduction initiative and Director of The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. “The wolf is a symbol of wild nature and a voice that’s been missing from our landscape for 78 years. It is time to restore the balance.”
Donations to help Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund (RMWAF) bring the gray wolf home to Colorado can be made HERE!