(CBS4) – Colorado voters will decide in the fall whether to reintroduce wolves into the state, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported Wednesday there likely was a sighting of the species. Supporters and opponents of the initiative already want to use this incident to further their argument.
“It is a compelling reason for the people of Colorado to embrace and enact Initiative 107 in the fall,” said Rob Edward, president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund. “We need to reintroduce wolves and that is what Initiative 107 is about.”READ MORE: Snow, Rain A Welcome Sight In Colorado But Drought Still A Big Problem
The discovery last week of a thoroughly scavenged elk carcass near Irish Canyon is only a few miles from the sighting of six large canids traveling together last October from an eyewitness report, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The combination of evidence suggests a pack of gray wolves may now be living in the state along with a photo of possible tracks. The eyewitness was in a hunting party and posted video of wolves near the borders of Wyoming and Utah.
“We don’t need this ballot initiative, and we don’t need a forced introduction of the wolves into the state,” said Blake Henning, chief conservation officer of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
“They’re moving that direction, they are in that state so let’s allow the natural migration of these animals to occur.”
The organization has 17,000 members in Colorado and as a hunting group they want to see the elk population well managed at healthy, abundant populations. The foundation has already come out against the initiative.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced Monday that proponents had gathered enough signatures to get Initiative 107 — “Restoration of Gray Wolves” — on the 2020 General Election ballot.READ MORE: Colorado Community Uses 'The Social Dilemma' To Ignite Conversation About Unity, Change
Advocates say having gray wolves back in Colorado could restore the state’s natural balance and believe it should be for the people to decide.
Opponents say the decision should be made by experts with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
As it stands, the initiative specifies that reintroduction would happen on BLM land in western Colorado where it is more abundant and would include a fund to reimburse ranchers if livestock was killed.
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