DENVER — A bill to reintroduce gray wolves to Western Colorado has been introduced into the state senate.
Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Vail, CO) is the sponsor of the draft legislation that was introduced Friday.
A similar initiative proposed by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund (RMWAF), a group working to bring the gray wolf back to Colorado, has already been approved for the 2020 ballot.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has also confirmed sightings of a wolf pack in northwest Colorado.
>> Watch the video above to see the evidence that indicates wolves are in northwest Colorado.
Donovan's bill "authorizes the management and, if necessary, the reintroduction of the gray wolf in Colorado pursuant to a plan adopted by the parks and wildlife commission."
- The reintroduction will begin by Dec. 31, 2025, unless there is a self-sustaining population of gray wolves already in Colorado.
- Commercial livestock owners are entitled to payment for damages caused by the wolves.
- The reintroduction will be postponed until a new revenue source for those payments is found.
- The commission should adopt and periodically update a plan to reintroduce, recover and manage the gray wolf population using scientific data and public feedback.
- That plan should not impose resource-restrictions on landowners.
- The commission should organize a group to study the estimated damages gray wolves are likely to cause and how to finance those damages.
If the bill passed the Legislature, it would mean the issue would not need to go to voters.
Rob Edward, the RMWAF president, said that the bill is a good first step, but that as written it doesn't accomplish the same conservation objectives as the ballot measure his group is pushing for.
"We welcome Sen. Donovan’s effort to find a win-win solution that both achieves the goals of wolf reintroduction and protects the interests of the ranching and farming community while avoiding a long, costly campaign over the ballot initiative," Edward said. "However, we can not support the draft bill as introduced.”
The last of the native wolves in Colorado are believed to have been killed by humans in the 1940s.
RMWAF wants to bring them back to "restore the natural balance."
The group said the public agrees with them, but over the years, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission has met and decided not to re-introduce the wolf every time.
In 2016, a CPW commission cited a lack of funding, declining elk populations, and the need to get legislative support as reasons to not reintroduce the gray wolf. I me
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