For Immediate Release, January 13, 2016
||Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delia Malone, Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club, (970) 319-9498
Public Calls for Colorado Officials to Adopt Science-based Wolf Stance
Citizens to Rally Today in Denver to Support of Alternative to
Colorado Wildlife Commission's Anti-wolf Resolution
DENVER, Colo.— As the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission prepares to vote today on a resolution reaffirming the state’s long-held opposition to wolves, conservationists and citizens will rally in support of an alternative resolution supporting recovery of these endangered animals.
The research-based, pro-wolf resolution would place the state on record requesting that the federal government develop a recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves incorporating portions of southern Colorado, where scientists say this rare subspecies must be reintroduced for recovery. The proposal also calls for a national gray wolf recovery plan incorporating northern Colorado to help ensure the survival of wolves in neighboring Wyoming.
“The livestock industry has convinced Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper and his commission to oppose wolves,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “That would not only leave wolves vulnerable to extinction, but result in more elk being shot in Rocky Mountain National Park to safeguard native plants, and continue to deprive scavengers like eagles and bears of wolves’ leftovers. Colorado’s ecosystems and the wolves themselves deserve better.”
Gov. Hickenlooper recently joined the governors of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico in sending a letter to federal wildlife officials seeking to ban or restrict the movements of Mexican wolves, including keeping them out of Colorado entirely.
Scientists say that recovery of Mexican wolves requires the establishment of three interconnected populations in the Southwest, totaling at least 750 animals. They have identified southern Colorado as one of the regions that could support hundreds of wolves while providing connectivity to other wolf populations, which is important to ameliorate ongoing inbreeding.
“Colorado needs wolves and wolves need Colorado,” said Delia Malone, wildlife team chair for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission’s draft resolution 16-01, which seeks to prevent the repatriation of gray wolves to Colorado, is contrary to best available science and is founded on inaccuracies regarding the impact of wolves on ranching and recreational economies. We believe that by working together to implement wolf-livestock coexistence strategies, the people of Colorado can have the benefits of both a thriving ranching industry as well as intact natural habitats and ecosystems with their top predator restored.”
The commission will address the wolf resolution at 4 p.m. today at the Hunter Education Building of the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Headquarters, 6060 Broadway, in Denver. A rally in support of wolves will begin at 2 p.m. outside the meeting hall. Wednesday’s rally launches a regional day of action in support of endangered Mexican wolves, with wolf supporters in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah planning to hold rallies on Thursday.
The Mexican gray wolf is the most imperiled wolf subspecies in North America, and after extirpation from the wild was reintroduced from captivity to Arizona and New Mexico in 1998 and to northern Mexico in 2011. At last count a year ago, just 110 wolves survived in the U.S. Southwest, including only eight breeding pairs; around 20 wolves survive in Mexico. Another count will be carried out this month.
Wolves were exterminated from the western United States through a federal program of trapping and poisoning that began in 1915 and had eliminated almost all wolves by the mid-1920s. The last original wolf probably born in the western United States was killed by a federal trapper in Colorado’s Conejos County in 1945. Since wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in the 1990s, four wolves naturally dispersed into Colorado, though three were killed by vehicle, poison and shooting.