DENVER (CBS4) – Before more gray wolf paws are placed in Colorado, years of meetings will take place. On Thursday, it became clear Proposition 114 would narrowly pass and Colorado Parks and Wildlife started planning for wolf reintroduction.
“Our agency consists of some of the best and brightest in the field of wildlife management and conservation,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow in a press release.
“I know our wildlife experts encompass the professionalism, expertise, and scientific focus that is essential in developing a strategic species management plan. CPW is committed to developing a comprehensive plan and in order to do that, we will need input from Coloradans across our state. We are evaluating the best path forward to ensure that all statewide interests are well represented.”
Many questions will need to be answered, like when, where, and how many wolves will be reintroduced. While CPW is just beginning the process, other experts in Colorado have been having these types of conversations for months and even years.
“We brought together 31 key stakeholders to the room to have a conversation about how to reduce social conflict over wolves,” said Dr. Rebecca Niemiec, an Assistant Professor in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department at Colorado State University, about a February workshop in Glenwood Springs. “These sort of processes bring people together in shared dialogue, can enhance empathy, and enhance perspective taking. It can make people more likely to collaborate and find solutions that work for everyone.”
The reintroduction plan will have an impact on humans as well as wildlife, adding to the list of questions that will need to be answered.
“How do we run a compensation program that address ranchers needs? What does it mean to have a viable population of wolves,” said Niemiec. “In Colorado, the best habitat for wolves would be public wildlands where there’s abundant prey and open space and less potential conflict with people. Ultimately people will determine where wolves can live.”
Other ecologists who have studied wolf reintroduction belief a few dozen wolves from the Northern Rockies will make the move to Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife tried to answer some common questions but few certainties exist.
“Wolves impact things that people really value whether that’s positively or negatively. People will have strong emotions toward this and those emotions won’t go away,” Niemiec said.