Proposition 114 would require the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to create a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves — an endangered species — on designated lands west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023.
Voter approval of this measure would direct CPW to rely on the best scientific data and hold hearings in developing and updating the plan. CPW also would be required to pay “fair compensation” to owners for any losses of livestock caused by wolves. And state officials couldn’t impose restrictions on private landowners in order to support the reintroduction of wolves.
Colorado’s last gray wolves were killed in the 1940s after wolves inhabited the area for thousands of years. Starting in 1995, wolves have been reintroduced in northern Rocky Mountain states where they have made a comeback.
The case for: Proponents argue wolves will restore a natural ecological balance and help fight the chronic wasting disease afflicting Colorado’s deer and elk. They say deliberate wolf restoration is necessary to bring back wolves. Some 70 conservation groups support the measure including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth and the National Parks Conservation Association.
The case against: Opponents argue that existing wildlife including threatened and endangered species would be put in danger. They contend wolves would threaten people, livestock and pets. Any benefits of wolf re-introduction would be temporary, they say, and would be offset by long-term damage. Elected commissioners in 38 of Colorado’s 64 counties, representing 36% of the state population, have opposed the measure.
Ballot question: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the restoration of gray wolves through their reintroduction on designated lands in Colorado located west of the continental divide, and, in connection therewith, requiring the Colorado parks and wildlife commission, after holding statewide hearings and using scientific data, to implement a plan to restore and manage gray wolves; prohibiting the commission from imposing any land, water, or resource use restrictions on private landowners to further the plan; and requiring the commission to fairly compensate owners for losses of livestock caused by gray wolves?”
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