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Is Colorado Running Out of Options for a Source of Wolves for Reintroduction?

Photo Credit: kjekol

Is Colorado Running Out of Options for a Source of Wolves for Reintroduction?

By Dave Shaffer

As we’ve been discussing for a while, there are plans to begin reintroducing more wolves to the Western Slope region of Colorado no later than the end of this year. This wolf reintroduction was authorized by Colorado’s Proposition 114 which barely passed on Nov. 3, 2020, by the smallest of margins by a margin of 50.91% to 49.09%.  

But can Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) find any wolves to use for reintroduction?

CPW has been looking at Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, as stated in its final wolf management plan, for sources of wolves. They have NOT been looking to source wolves from Canada.

So far, Wyoming and Idaho have already informed Colorado they will not serve as a wolf source for Colorado’s reintroduction plan. Recently, Montana and Washington have also said they won’t provide Colorado wolves by its deadline. Washington could decide to assist in 2024, but not before the end of the 2023 deadline.

That leaves Oregon as the only state that could provide wolves to Colorado before the December 31st deadline when Colorado wishes to release 10 to 15 wolves west of the Continental Divide. However, Oregon has the fewest wolves of any of the states being considered and they don’t know if they could provide wolves to Colorado by the end of 2023.

So now what?

CPW says now they are reaching out to the Nez Perce Tribe, and may reach out to other tribes, as they explore all options for potential sources of the first 10 to 15 wolves to be reintroduced into the state. The Nez Perce tribe is located in the heart of Idaho’s wolf country. Native American tribes have the right to govern themselves and could provide wolves if they decide to.  However, so far, the Nez Perce Tribe hasn’t made any decision.

What happens if Colorado can’t find any wolves for reintroduction by the end of the year?

Ever since Proposition 114 was approved in 2020, CPW has been working on a recovery and management plan to comply with the measure to reintroduce wolves by the end of 2023. However, nothing in that plan addresses the possibility of not being able to get any wolves.

Rob Edward, president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, which led a massive effort to pass the proposition, said he expects Colorado to comply with the voters’ will. Maybe if the state fails, Edward will sue Gov. Polis (who supports wolf reintroduction) and the rest of us can just sit back and watch the wolf lovers fight amongst themselves and leave the rest of the state alone. Colorado already seems to be doing just fine without their help, and without any additional wolves.

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