After Proposition 114 passed in 2020, it's only a matter of time before Colorado starts to reintroduce grey wolves into the Colorado wildlands and forests. The question remains; where?
An environmental and wildlife advocate group, WildEarth Guardians, stationed out of New Mexico has taken the time to draft a proposal it's hoping Colorado Parks and Wildlife takes seriously and potentially implements.
"We decided on 12 locations that we think are both suitable habitat and help to ensure a distribution of wolves across the Western Slope," Chris Smith, Southwest Wildlife Advocate with WildEarth Guardians said.
Granted, CPW did not ask for this plan. But WildEarth Guardians said it has a vested interest in the success of wolves, and therefore the success of the environment of Colorado.
"When wolves disappear, elk and other ungulates can move into riparian and aquatic areas uninhibited. They can overeat the willows that are living there. Then the beavers disappear. When the beavers disappear, streams channelized riparian habitat, wetland habitat goes away, songbird populations diminish, and water resources diminish. So they have an impact on nearly every aspect of an ecosystem when they're allowed to thrive and carry out what they historically have been able to do," Smith said.
Smith said the plan calls for 750 wolves to be introduced, and in the areas below colored blue/green. That's reportedly more than three times what CPW has been considering, according to Smith.
CPW held its cards closer to the chest when speaking with Mountain Newsroom Reporter Spencer Wilson when it came to specifics on the plan, expected to be presented to the public in December of 2022. It's still taking public comment from interested people looking to have a say in what happens with the wolves, where they end up, and how many of them we put in.
"We're looking to the best available science as well as our state and federal partners have been through this process before and to managing animals on the ground to make sure that we're putting together a plan that settles for not only the animals that are residents as well," Rebecca Ferrell with CPW said, referencing WildEarth Guardians' claim their plan is based on the best science available.
For now, WildEarth Guardians is a part of that public comment and just that.
"We hope they're listening because we think that our plan follows the spirit and the letter of Prop 114," Smith said.
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