DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s plan to reintroduce wolves to the state took another step.
On Wednesday, the commission held its fifth and final meeting to get feedback from the public. Over the course of five meetings, CPW has received nearly 4,000 public comments from those in support of and against the plan.
As the plan stands now, the commission will bring 10 to 15 wolves to the state annually over the next three to five years.
The first two release locations are on the Western Slope. The first location sits along the Interstate 70 corridor between Glenwood Springs and Vail. The second location is along U.S. 50 between Monarch Pass and Montrose.
Rancher wolf compensation under discussion
The original plan would give ranchers $8,000 for each head of livestock killed or hurt by a wolf. After public comment, CPW said that amount will likely go up.
“There has been conversation at the past few meetings that the $8,000 cap might not be enough, so at the last meeting and today’s meeting, there’s discussion from the commission about raising that limit to $15,000 for livestock reimbursement,” said Travis Duncan, with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, “as well as reimbursement at that same amount, that $15,000 amount, for vet bills as well.”
As an endangered species, it’s illegal to kill or harm a wolf in Colorado. CPW said that will remain the case as the wolves are reintroduced into the state. Ranchers fear they won’t be able to protect their livestock.
“Instead of being compensated for losses when they occur is — allow me to have the tools to prevent those losses from occurring, and that’s lethal management,” rancher Sean Zele said. “Allow me to shoot a wolf if I see it attacking my cow, because if that happens right now, the way the law reads, I can’t do anything about it.”
Those in support of the plan say ranchers will be given the tools to prevent those situations from happening.
“There are compensation measures in place. We’re hoping to have robust mitigation measures available and a lot of education to those ranchers and farmers on how you can protect yourself — how you can take steps necessary to avoid the conflicts in the first place,” said Lindsay Larris, with WildEarth Guardians.
The commission will vote on the final approved plan at their meeting on May 3-4.