'Restoration of Gray Wolves' initiative qualifies for 2020 ballot

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DENVER — The Elections Division at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office says the “Restoration of Gray Wolves” initiative has qualified for the 2020 General Election ballot.

The last confirmed wolf sighting in Colorado was in 2015, when a wolf was killed near Kremmling. However, Gray wolves have been functionally extinct for 75 years in the state of Colorado.

The initiative argues that the animal was once an essential part of the wild habitat.

The initiative would reintroduce gray wolves on designated lands west of the Continental Divide. Once restored to Colorado, gray wolves would help restore a critical balance in nature, according to the initiative.

The recent possible sighting of a gray wolf in northern Colorado has only fueled the debate over the future of the animal that once roamed Colorado freely.

The issue is controversial, with some farmers and ranchers on the Western Slope concerned about livestock. The proposal calls for an unknown number of wolves to be introduced on the Western slope.

Opponents argue the bulk of Colorado voters live on the Front Range and would have little to no interaction with the wolves.

“That’s the feeling of many of our members,” Terry Fankhauser, executive vice president with the Colorado Cattleman’s Association, said in December. “They’re not the population center of the state.”

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