Coloradans could know that the gray wolf is back in the state a few years after the passage of Proposition 114 on the November ballot. “Know,” not necessarily “see,” because wolves are content to stay in higher elevations and in rugged country, wary of humans. Wildlife professionals say they won’t be found within Durango’s city limits no matter how attractive the in-town deer population.
One reason for that is wolves prefer elk.
The statute will green-light the creation of a plan for the reintroduction and management of the gray wolf after statewide hearings shaped to include “scientific, economic and social considerations.” The plan is to include a provision for periodic updates as well.
Statute language also makes it clear that “fair compensation” will be paid to livestock owners for any loses, and that the state Parks and Wildlife Commission will “not impose any land, water or resource use restrictions on private landowners in furtherance of the plan.”
The plan must be designed to resolve conflicts with those engaged in ranching and farming.
The point is to return the gray wolf to the state, specifically west of the Continental Divide where there is an abundance of public lands, after it has been absent for 75 years. The wolves’ presence will restore a former balance in nature.
The identification of the locations on public lands will be a part of the planning process.
The statute does include a timetable: The reintroduction will begin no later than the end of December 2023.
The Herald’s editorial board supports Proposition 114 expecting that it will result in an appropriate and thorough plan for gray wolf reintroduction and that they will exist with minimal negative impacts.