Colorado USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Baird says he has been spending his time helping craft the ballot language. “In a matter such as this, both sides of the issue have the opportunity to work with the Secretary of State's office to craft the language which will appear on the ballot. I've spent a large portion of my time dedicated to ensuring the language is fair.” Baird says the language will be released formally in late June or early July.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has phenomenal information regarding the issue and how the Northern Gray Wolf introduction has a trickle-down effect. For starters, it is estimated to cost taxpayers an additional $6 million in new spending on the wolf initiative. Considering the COVID-19-related budget shortfall, this poses an issue for Colorado.
One of the issues with the proposed introduction of the Northern Gray Wolves is there is no proposed path to funding the initiative by the Anti-hunting crowd. Don't forget the future issues surrounding the time and money spent by Conservation officers investigating claims by ranchers.
COVID-19 triggers major detrimental impacts on health, employment, education & higher education, revenue generation, tourism, tax collections, and other wide-ranging aspects of Colorado's economy for the fiscal year 2020-2021. Original projections of COVID-19's impact on Colorado's state budget ballooned from $300 million to $800 million to $1 billion and now $3 billion (or 10 percent of the state's $30 billion budget). Yet, the full impact may not be known for months or even years.
Issues with the introduction of the Northern Gray Wolf also fall into the category of the Federal Endangered Species Act. Northern Gray wolves are still listed at this time, although Baird says he thinks they may be removed within the next year. The Mexican Gray Wolf is a native species to New Mexico wolves are migrating up from New Mexico and have been sighted in southern Colorado. For someone to introduce a federally listed species, there are hoops to jump through. Northern Gray Wolves would have to be introduced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, not the state. Additionally, officials don't want to have interspecies breeding, which would violate the act. The Mexican Gray Wolf, which no bigger than a coyote would face extinction at the teeth of the 200lb Northern Gray Wolf.
Consider the following for those concerned with wanting to see wolves and have additional predators on the landscape. Northern Gray wolves have been confirmed in Northern Colorado. They do expand efficiently. Looking at records from other states in the northern Rockies, we know how wolves have expanded since the 90s. The Northern Gray wolf isn't native to Colorado and would be a true introduction of a foreign species. CPW studied the moose introduction for over ten years before releasing them in 1978. Should a powerful predator be released with no research?
According to the RMEF website: “After the initial release of 34 wolves into central Idaho in 1995-96, wolves naturally spread throughout Idaho and across state lines into Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California. Professional and state federal wildlife managers saw no need to artificially introduce more wolves for the sake of genetic diversity or for any other reason as those wolves continue to multiply on their own. At last count minimum estimated populations number 1,000 wolves in Idaho, 900 in Montana, 158 in Oregon, 145 in Washington and 7-10 in California.”
To see the real impact on the elk population, just take into consideration the Lolo elk zone in Idaho. In 2011 there were an estimated 800 wolves, according to the Foundation For Wildlife Management. In 1995 there were an estimated 16,000 elk and today have between 1000 & 2,000 animals. Loss of vegetation along with the pressure from lions, bears, and the expansion of wolves have decimated the herd.
Matters of wildlife have an odd way of crossing the heartstrings and the financial realms of life. The action steps taken by hunting and ranching groups has been a collective grass-roots effort to spread education and factual information. The pro-wolf groups are using their collective buying power to spread their message, mostly through emotionally driven rhetoric. How are hunters and the ranching community banding together to provide the other side of the story?
Members of the hunting and ranching communities have founded StopTheWolf.Org. Grassroots education through social media, testimonials, and statistics is the approach at this time. TV advertisements have been tough to come by since it is an election year. The unfortunate question boils down to the brass tacks; who will have a bigger bank account to push their message? It is not easy to make data an emotional connection. To look objectively at the emotional pro-ungulate side: Elk, deer, and moose provide more valuable, taste better, and produce more financially for the state than wolves.
There are causes and effects for each action taken. The complexity of the trickle-down effects have implications not only for the strength of the valued ungulate herds in the state but a future impact on the 96 million dollars per year generated by hunting licenses in the state. If the elk herd dwindles there will be a significant loss to this revenue. There are untold implications on the negative impact on taxpayers for forcing a foreign predator on the landscape. Just look at the issues caused by stripping spring bear season and outlawing bear hunting with dogs. Just in LaPlata country, they removed a few hundred bears last year alone. There are well-documented frustrations across the West with ranchers (a book within itself) which Coloradan's can reference.
Dear Coloradans, you've been tasked with a highly difficult decision with two sides speaking to you and no central leadership able to guide the process. The biologists and employees at Colorado Parks and Wildlife are good folks finding themselves a victim of laws handcuffing their ability to work. Consider both the emotional and scientific side of the conversation heading into November. Do you want to wipe out your amazing & legendary herds of elk, deer, and create further hardships for your ranching community and raise more taxes? Your choice.