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Should gray wolves be reintroduced to Colorado? Voters will soon decide

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado voters will decide if gray wolves should be reintroduced to the Western Slope, with a ballot initiative this fall.

If approved, Proposition 114 would reintroduce wolves to the western part of the state by 2023, after public hearings and guidance from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. It would also set aside money to pay for livestock killed by the wolves.

The groups behind Prop 114, including the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, received boost of support Wednesday, from a letter with dozens of endorsements.

“It’s time that we restore wolves, so that we restore the balance of nature for future generations,” said Rob Edward, the president of the Wolf Action Fund.

“Wolves help keep their prey species, elk in particular, moving around and vigilant,” Edward said. That keeps elk from damaging plants and in turn, helps other animals and waterways, Edward said.

Edward helped gather enough signatures to put the question to a vote.

In the past, people in Colorado said they were in favor of reintroducing the wolves. In 2019, Colorado State University conducted an online survey about wolves. Of the 734 people surveyed, 84% supported the wolf reintroduction, including 79.8% of respondents on the Western Slope.

But not everyone wants to see more wolves in Colorado.

There is plenty of opposition to Prop 114, including those who are concerned wolves would hurt protected species in Colorado, such as the Gunnison sage-grouse.

“We’ve spent millions of dollars to try to protect those animals. Now we’re going to bring in an apex predator that’s going to eat those animals,” said Stop the Wolf Pac’s Ted Harvey. “It flies in the face of wildlife management.”

Harvey spent more than a decade as a Colorado legislator and was on the agriculture, natural resources and energy committee. He and others are also concerned the wolves would kill livestock and moose.

“It’s one of the silliest measures we’ve seen on the Colorado ballot in a really, really long time,” said Shawn Martini, the vice president of advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau, who’s also part of Coloradans Protecting Wildlife. “Short reason is because wolves are already in the state.”

CPW has confirmed there are a few wolves that naturally migrated to northwest Colorado.

Now voters will decide if more should be put there.

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