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Colorado will get to create rules for when people can kill grey wolves

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft record of decision, which designates grey wolves as a "nonessential experimental population."

DENVER — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  (USFWS) intends to give the state of Colorado authority to create its own rules for grey wolf management, including when someone would be allowed to kill a wolf. 

The state plans to reintroduce grey wolves before the end of the year, because of a 2020 ballot proposition.

USFWS published a "Draft Record of Decision" to implement rule 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. With this rule, USFWS would designate the new grey wolves as a "nonessential experimental population." 

"It's really a positive development.  It will allow us to achieve our goal of establishing a self-sustaining population of wolves, and it will allow us to get address some of the conflict that we anticipate will happen with wolves in Colorado," said Eric Odell, CPW Species Conservation Program Manager.

Right now, USFWS says this rule does not apply to wolves already in Colorado, because the wolves do not currently meet the criteria to be considered a population.  The 10(j) will apply to the wolves the state plans to reintroduce later this year.

This designation was sought after by ranchers.  Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) previously vetoed a bill which would have required the rule to be in place before wolves get reintroduced.

Without this designation, the only scenario where a person could legally kill a wolf would be to save human life. That's because grey wolves are federally listed as an endangered species.

Credit: CPW
CPW's draft management plan outlines scenarios where a wolf could be killed.

Anticipating receiving the 10(j) rule, the state's management plan already sets conditions for when people could kill wolves. For example, the state intends to issue permits for ranchers to kill a wolf if they catch one actively trying to kill livestock.

USFWS plans to publish the final rule after 30 days. 

The state believes it must reintroduce grey wolves before the end of the year.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has not yet secured a source for wolves.

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