KREMMLING, Colo. (CBS4)– Grand County Commissioners voted this week to approve a resolution opposing wolf reintroduction. This comes ahead of a statewide ballot issue that will be put to voters on whether to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado.
Initiative 107, “Restoration of Gray Wolves,” will appear on the November 2020 General Election ballot in Colorado.
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. Ranchers are worried the apex predators will lead to major losses.
Grand County commissioners say they hear from a lot of people who oppose the effort and haven’t received calls for support for the reintroduction plan. This week the group took action, approving a resolution that opposes wolf reintroduction.
“We are looking at a whole different thing here we really need to consider when we’re marking those ballots,” said Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke.
Grand County commissioners cite the potential harm to ranchers and outdoor recreation industry.
“I just don’t want the unintended consequences of forced reintroduction to harm our ranching, to harm our hunting… elk hunting and deer hunting, that’s big tourism for us,” said Grand County Commissioner Richard Cimino.
These commissioners are joining a growing list of counties on Colorado’s Western Slope that are in opposition to reintroducing the animals. But even if the ballot measure fails, wolves seem to be making their own natural return to Colorado.
Hunters documented as many as six wolves, two caught on video, late last year in the northwest corner of Colorado. Wildlife managers now believe the pack is living in the rugged backcountry near the Utah and Wyoming borders.
“They are here, we know they are here, and this piece of paper is not going to keep them from coming but we don’t want to force-introduce any more of them,” Linke added.
If the wolves are returning without our help, then commissioners think Colorado Parks and Wildlife shouldn’t be spending millions of dollars to bring them back and should let nature take its course.
“We are livestock producers, we are in the outfitting business, there isn’t one aspect of my life that won’t be affected by this,” Grand County rancher Doug Bruchez told CBS4’s Matt Kroschel on Thursday.