January 11, 2016
Mr. Chris Castilian
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
Denver, CO 80216
Chairman Castilian and Commissioners:
We understand the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to consider a petition on January 13 that would prevent the introduction of wolves in Colorado.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) supports Alternative Version 2 of this petition including language that opposes the intentional release of any wolves into Colorado. Reintroduction of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West has had significant impacts on elk, deer, other wildlife and livestock in many locations. Further, the lessons learned from the Greater Yellowstone wolf reintroduction should be heeded as you consider the long term future of Colorado’s wildlife. Those who promoted the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction, including Defenders of Wildlife, have displayed a substantial lack of good faith in the establishment of recovery goals and wolf management tools.
The strategy of the pro-wolf supporters is nothing short of “let’s agree to just about anything to get our foot in the door first; then we will do whatever is necessary to further our agenda.” Those supporting wolf reintroductions will use the federal courts and judges as opposed to subscribing to empirical science. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) will lose the ability to manage as you see fit and mandated by federal lawsuits. CPW need only to talk with the state wildlife agencies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan to determine what impacts a reintroduced wolf species will bring to Colorado, including financial impacts which will reach into the millions.
Further, one only needs to look at the wolf populations in the Great Lakes region and take inventory of where the deer populations as well as elk populations have suffered dramatically due predation. Again, the same pro-wolf groups that now desire wolves introduced into Colorado continue to tie up wolf management in the Great Lakes states in federal courts as wolf numbers expand and deer and elk decrease. The lessons CPW can draw from both the Yellowstone region and the Great Lakes states illustrate that wolf populations where there are significant ungulates will have a significant effect on your overall wildlife management systems.
Mexican gray wolves are another matter. The home range of this species did not historically include Colorado. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project does not include Colorado in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. That area is limited to Arizona and New Mexico.
Please consider these reasons for supporting Alternative Version 2 of this petition.
- There is evidence gray wolves have already re-established populations in Colorado. Introduction of a separate species of wolf could create hybridized wolves.
- Introduction of Mexican wolves would certainly have a detrimental impact on elk, deer, other wildlife and livestock—all factors critically important to Colorado’s landscape, recreational value and economy.
- Introduction of Mexican wolves could impact the balance in Colorado that currently exists among existing predators and prey. Judging from our experience in other western states, wolves will impact wildlife populations, distribution and behavior—often in negative and undesirable ways.
Please understand our position on this issue does not come without serious consideration of the scientific understanding of wolves, wolf interactions with other species and wolf management. In fact, we have invested more than $725,000 in grants to leading universities, state and federal wildlife conservation agencies and tribal agencies for independent research on this subject.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.
M. David Allen
President & CEO