COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - Proposition 114 proposes the reintroduction and management of gray wolves in Colorado.
If the proposition is passed, gray wolves would be reintroduced on land west of the continental divide by the end of 2023.
Arguments for Proposition 114:
- Reintroducing gray wolves can help support a healthy environment and can perform important ecological functions that impact other plants and animals.
- Reintroduction is necessary to ensure that a permanent gray wolf population is restored in Western Colorado.
Arguments against Proposition 114:
- Gray wolves prey on livestock and can cause conflict with humans and animals that live in the areas being considered for gray wolf habitat.
- Gray wolves from neighboring states have been observed in Colorado, suggesting wolves may be establishing a presence in the state on their own.
Bill Fales is a rancher in the Crystal River Valley and opposes the proposition, saying it has the potential to harm his livestock.
"It could have a negative consequence of forcing ranchers to economically fail and that ranch land, which is such important habitat, to be sold into subdivisions and lost for wildlife," Fales said.
The proposition states the commission is required to fairly compensate owners for the loss of livestock caused by the gray wolves, but it doesn't specify what the compensation would look like.
Fales says the loss of livestock would be difficult to prove.
"It's very hard for us on our forest service permits to find the dead cattle, especially before the bears come in and eat that carcass," Fales said.
He also said wolves would make livestock more skittish and could cause them to lose weight due to stress.
On the other side of the debate is John Murtaugh with the Defenders of Wildlife Rockies and Plains.
"Livestock is not a normal diet for wolves, but it does occur, however, it is very rare. We looked at the northern Rockies in the year 2015 and found that .01% of livestock were lost to wolves that year," Murtaugh said.
The proposition does not specify where the wolves will be released, where they will come from and how many would be released.
"We are responsible for the wolves removal in Colorado, but now we have the opportunity to restore the species and preserve it for future generations," Murtaugh said.
If Proposition 114 is passed, there would be an increase in state spending. The money would primarily come from hunting and fishing license fees and appropriations made by that legislature.
A vote "yes" on Proposition 114 means you are in favor of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission developing a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves.
A vote "no" on Proposition 114 means you are against the reintroduction and management of gray wolves in Colorado.