Photo by Dan Stahler
As we described in a report last summer, NWF expanded its Adopt a Wildlife Acre Programs to address the planned reintroduction of wolves into Colorado thanks to the passage of Proposition 114 in November of last year. The Proposition mandates that the State of Colorado transplant wolves into the West Slope of the state by the end of 2023. Amazingly, however, wolves have found their way naturally to Colorado from Wyoming and in an exciting development, at least eight wolves (including 6 new pups!) were located near North Park, Colorado in 2021 – the first successful litter of pups born in Colorado in over 80 years. Unfortunately, in December 2021 and January 2022, this newly established wolf pack was confirmed to have caused the death of three cattle and two dogs in North Park. While Colorado is in the process of developing a long-term plan to avoid and manage wolf-livestock conflicts, state wildlife managers have been caught by surprise by the recently confirmed depredations, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Unless there are immediate and well-designed approaches to deter existing wolves from preying on domestic animals in North Park, the wolf pack may become more habituated to livestock, and depredations may increase. Consequently, there will be increasing calls for the removal of the North Park wolves, and, perhaps most importantly, the future reintroduction of wolves into Colorado will begin under a growing shroud of opposition that will compromise long-term success.
In response, The National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with Working Circle and Defenders of Wildlife, have been building relationships with local North Park ranchers and developing a plan that is ready to implement in meeting three major objectives: (1) reduce or stop the depredation of livestock by North Park wolves, (2) build relationships and trust with the local ranching community, and (3) demonstrate successful practices and partnerships that show how to address rancher’s concerns while reducing opposition to the presence of wolves in rural Colorado. To date, our coalition has been successful in preventing additional livestock deaths, but the work will continue through the spring and summer when we will need to redouble our efforts.
If we are able to obtain adequate funding, our coalition will continue our intensive work with ranchers in North Park to put conflict reduction measures in place, collaborate with state and federal wildlife managers to inform best practices, demonstrate the power of public-private partnerships, and apply the work in North Park to inform the State of Colorado’s long-term wolf reintroduction and management plan. In addition to on-the-ground conflict reduction practices, a key component of this plan will be to develop and disseminate messaging that supports this conflict reduction work and, in addition, provides science-based information as a foil to the emerging narrative that wolves and ranchers cannot coexist.
NWF is seeking $150,000 to enact this plan immediately. This is a unique opportunity to support an immediate need that can directly support wolves on the ground, reduce rural-urban tensions that could upend wolf reintroduction, and set a foundation that supports the long-term success of wolves in Colorado. If you would lke more information, please contact Bob McCready at email@example.com
Photo by Andrew Ketsdever