Over seventy conservation organizations representing 16 million Americans sent a letter today to Colorado’s governor and natural resources director supporting the concept of reintroducing the gray wolf to Colorado.
“Reintroducing wolves would go far to restore the natural balance to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains for generations to come,” the letter reads. “It would also complete the return of wolves across the entire Rocky Mountain chain from Alaska to the U.S. Southwest, a wildlife restoration success of global significance.”
The groups include Colorado groups such as the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club, Evergreen Audubon, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Rocky Mountain Wild, and the San Louis Valley Ecosystem Council, as well as national organizations including Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, and Center for Biological Diversity. Additionally, wolf reintroductions are supported by Colorado Voters for Animals (CVA) and their 40,000 supporters throughout Colorado (CVA letter available at https://bit.ly/3bIs99l).
“Those of us on the Western Slope see every day the tremendous potential in wolf reintroduction to restore the natural balance in Colorado for future generations,” said Redstone resident Delia Malone of the Sierra Club. “The responses from Colorado citizens and conservation groups, and conservationists from coast to coast were so heartening. A lot of people from around the country routinely visit and love our mountains and are excited about our opportunity to restore wolves by passing Proposition 114 in November.”
Proposition 114 will be on the ballot this November after over 215,000 signatures were submitted last fall by Colorado voters. A majority vote on this citizen’s initiative would require Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop a science-based plan with public input to reintroduce gray wolves to western Colorado and begin reintroduction by December 31, 2023. Today’s letter demonstrates the strong state, regional, national, and global importance of the upcoming vote.
“Gray wolves inhabited the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado for thousands of years until 1945, when the last one was killed in southwestern Colorado,” the conservationists’ letter states. “Wolves evolved alongside their prey such as deer and elk. Their absence has altered both prey and landscapes. Bringing wolves back will help restore this predator-prey balance, helping keep both the prey and the landscapes they graze healthier.”
“As a big game hunter and resident of Steamboat Springs, I know wolves will ultimately make the mountain ecosystems healthier and more biodiverse, and frankly is exactly what our elk and deer herds need to reduce the prevalence of diseases like chronic wasting disease (CWD), which has infected numerous herds across our state,” said Eric Washburn.
The letter sent today acknowledges those potential upsides for Colorado: “Wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park and the northern Rockies in 1995-96 resulted in documented benefits to the fish, wildlife, and plant communities of the region, including growth of streamside vegetation that has benefited fish, amphibians, beaver, and songbirds. Moreover, scavenging animals such as bears, eagles, and wolverines have benefited from the leftovers of wolf kills.”
“Reintroducing wolves to Colorado will help repair the ecological damage done by their removal over 70 years ago,” said Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains program director at Defenders of Wildlife. “This November, we urge Coloradans to vote to restore this magnificent creature to its historic home, and the natural balance that comes with it.”
This letter of support follows the recent endorsements of Proposition #114 by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall.
Additional Press Information:
Eric Washburn, Wolf Restoration Campaign Manager
Delia Malone, Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.