During the last regular meeting of the Las Animas County Commissioners, many considerations were read and approved, including the unanimous acceptance of opposition to the reintroduction of wolves to Colorado. In the opposition, read by County Administrator Phil Dorenkamp, the county provided several reasons for their standing, primarily the impact on local economy.
“Las Animas County residents and visitors enjoy abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, especially hiking, biking, and hunting pronghorn deer and elk, as well as other outdoor activities” read Phil Dorenkamp. “These outdoor recreational activities and livestock production are two of the primary components of the Colorado economy and are a major contributor to the economy and social well being of Las Animas County.”
Additionally considered was the impact to the public that wolf reintroduction efforts could potentially have. Based on information from federal and state agencies, reintroduction of wolves into Colorado was not necessary in maintaining a healthy wildlife ecosystem and could actually be harmful.
“In addition to the negative economic and social impact of wolf reintroduction,” Dorenkamp read, “wolves pose a danger to the physical health of household pets and people due to predation and the transmission of diseases. Ongoing private efforts to reintroduce wolves into Colorado aren’t necessary based on the scientific input from the federal and state agencies tasked with managing wildlife population.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has already come forward in opposition of reintroduction, said the reading, and Las Animas County is in agreement and support of their decision.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission passed resolution 16-01 opposing an intentional release of any wolves into Colorado,” read Dorenkamp. “The board opposes any efforts to introduce or expand the populations of wolves in Colorado and supports the position taken by the Parks and Wildlife in it’s resolution 16-01 as well as delisting all wolf species under the Endangered Species Act to allow management of wolves at the state and local levels.”
Commissioners requested that if the state continues forward with reintroduction efforts, that they also provide adequate funding and balanced education to manage the possible negative impacts resulting from their predatory behavior.
“The board requests that any federal or state wolf management plans include funding to offset the negative impacts of wolves on livestock, wildlife management, hunting, and other adversely affected sectors of the local economy,” read Dorenkamp. “The board supports efforts to include the requirement of a publicly funded or sponsored wolf education programs including comprehensive balanced discussion about the impacts of wolves on local economies and include the perspective of livestock producers, hunters, and public health officials.”
After the 124,632 necessary signatures were gathered, Coloradan’s will now see the question of whether or not wolves should be reintroduced to Colorado on next year’s ballot. This will be the first time in the nation voters will decide whether to reintroduce gray wolves.