Proposition 114 has passed by Colorado voters allowing the reintroduction of Gray Wolves into Western Colorado by 2023.
With 90% of the votes currently reported, Yes votes have roughly a 26,000 vote lead.
This was a hotly debated proposition with densely populated cities voting in favor but more rural populations voting against.
Janie VanWinkle, the head of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) released the following statement:
“While very disheartened with the passage of Proposition 114 and also fearful of what implications forced wolf introduction will have on Colorado, CCA remains committed to ensuring real science, and actual Coloradans, make decisions associated with our state’s wildlife. While voters spoke by passing Proposition 114, we still believe that Coloradans want responsible wildlife management, not unbridled wolf introduction, at all costs. CCA will recommit to this as efforts begin to unfold to implement Proposition 114.”
Gray wolves historic range once covered over two-thirds of the continental United States. Until recently, they were federal protected under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 U.S. states. According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, there are roughly 6,000 Gray Wolves in the lower 48 spread out between northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin, western Montana, northern Idaho, northeast Oregon, and northwestern Wyoming.
Supporters of the proposition argue that reintroducing wolves into their native historical range will promote biodiversity by keeping elk and deer populations in check. The point to the success of re-introduction in Yellowstone as we pass the 25 year anniversary of wolf reintroduction there.
So what comes next?
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Prop 114 directs them to:
- Develop a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves in Colorado by December 31, 2023, on designated lands west of the Continental Divide;
- Hold statewide hearings about scientific, economic, and social considerations;
- Periodically obtain public input to update the plan; and
- Use state funds to assist livestock owners in preventing conflicts with gray wolves and pay fair compensation for livestock losses.