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Idaho won't give wolves to Colorado, which still hasn't found a source

Colorado Parks and Wildlife plans to reintroduce wolves before the end of the year, but 9NEWS confirms Idaho and Wyoming won't give wolves to the state.

DENVER — In a setback to Colorado Parks and Wildlife's plans to reintroduce gray wolves by the end of the year, Idaho has refused to give wolves to the state, according to a June 6 letter from the director of Idaho's Department of Fish and Game.

Idaho joins Wyoming in refusing to provide wolves to Colorado, and CPW still has not secured wolves, according to a spokesperson, even though CPW published a series of tweets this week to help prepare people for their release. 

"After giving the potential effects of your request careful consideration and conferring with Governor Little, I respectfully decline the request to use Idaho wolves as a source for translocation to Colorado," said Jim Fredericks, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, to CPW Director Jeff Davis.

> The video above aired May 18: The conflict over the reintroduction of wolves in Colorado

CPW said wolf reintroduction efforts require the transfer of about 30 to 50 wolves over three to five years and that the agency has made formal requests to Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. 

"Idaho has declined to participate in providing wolves to Colorado’s effort," CPW said in a statement to 9NEWS. "Washington’s Wildlife Subcommittee of their Commission has had initial discussions, and it is our understanding that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission are continuing to consider whether they may be able to provide wolves to Colorado in the short term."

A spokesperson for the office of Washington Governor Jay Inslee said the office has spoken with Governor Polis' office about the possibility "We have not made any commitments or taken a position at this point, but are open to discussion." 

RELATED: Wyoming won't give wolves to Colorado; CPW doesn't know where it will get them

Fredericks' letter cites several reasons for refusing to provide wolves, including that wolves in Colorado will not remain in Colorado.

"Idaho's experience leads us to conclude that negative impacts of wolves sent to Colorado will not stay in Colorado," he wrote.

He also expressed financial concerns.

"Idaho has paid an enormous price to have wolves on the landscape," Fredericks wrote. "There are actual costs associated with monitoring, managing, and controlling wolves ... Though these costs are significant, they are at least measurable. Less measurable are costs associated with unaccounted for livestock loss and increased productions costs, and loss to rural economies to due to decreased elk populations and hunting activity."

There are also social costs associated with wolf reintroduction, in Idaho's experience.

"Strong disagreements over how they [wolves] should be managed have fostered mistrust and social conflict among our rural communities, hunters, trappers, other outdoor recreation users, agricultural interests, wolf advocates, conservation organizations, and governmental entities," he wrote. "The result is a strain on many of the very relationships that are critical to future conservation efforts."

Idaho expressed concerns about the federal government giving Colorado more management flexibility, under a rule called 10j. Fredericks also worried about getting his state involved in future litigation.

"We are justifiably concerned that the implications of ESA [Endangered Species Act] litigation related to the translocation of wolves into Colorado will not be isolated to Colorado," Fredericks wrote.

Idaho also had concerns about how grey wolves will affect another wolf species, the "Mexican wolf."  The letter ends by stating that if the federal government delisted the wolves as an endangered species, their answer might be different. 

CPW plans to reintroduce wolves by December 31, 2023. Colorado's wolf management plan also states CPW discussed "specific agreements" with Montana, but Montana officials maintain that is false.

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