Colorado Voters: State Must Restore, Manage Wolves

Voters approved an unprecedented ballot initiative to restore wolves to Colorado, with the state wildlife agency charged with management.

Colorado Voters: State Must Restore, Manage Wolves

Led by a final push in the Denver area, voters on Nov. 3 narrowly approved an unprecedented ballot initiative to restore wolves to Colorado.

Proposition #114 - The Restoration of Gray Wolves was ahead 50.3% to 49.7% with 90% of the votes counted as of midday Nov. 5. 

Now the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission must develop a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves west of the Continental Divide. The number to be introduced is undetermined. The plan and introduction must be completed by 2023.

“Our agency consists of some of the best and brightest in the field of wildlife management and conservation,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow said in a press release. “I know our wildlife experts encompass the professionalism, expertise, and scientific focus that is essential in developing a strategic species management plan. CPW is committed to developing a comprehensive plan and in order to do that, we will need input from Coloradans across our state. We are evaluating the best path forward to ensure that all statewide interests are well represented.”

The agency said Proposition 114 directs the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission 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. 

Pro- and anti-wolf sides have fought bitterly for years about the proposed return of the predators. Advocacy groups say restoration of the species on its prior habitat west of the Continental Divide is necessary despite the animals already expanding their range in the northwest corner of the state. Opponents say the wolves would harm livestock and wild game stocks, including North America's largest elk herd.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife wildlife experts currently manage 960 wildlife species and have restored several of Colorado’s most iconic species.

The agency currently has a Wolf Management webpage with information.

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