Woolgrowers urged to speak up about wolf reintroduction, but in the right way

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RBC | “We better join arms,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Regional Manager JT Romantzke said. “We’re in the middle of a war right now.” 

Those in attendance for the annual meeting of the Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers’ Association weren’t surprised by Romantzke’s words.

Wolves—eradicated decades ago—are on the ballot and in the legislature for a forced return. There’s also pressure from environmental groups to outlaw bear hunting, despite 2,600 calls about nuisance bears in Pitkin County in one year, and pressure to stop mountain lion hunting in spite of increased numbers of human encounters with lions in residential areas.

“It’s not that we have more people seeing cats; it’s that we have more cats,” he said.

If that pressure changes laws, families who’ve been raising sheep on the Western Slope for generations will have to deal with the consequences.

What do wolves need for habitat? “A piece of ground and something to eat,” Romantzke said.

Since a pack of wolves was confirmed in the extreme northwest corner of Colorado in Moffat County, additional evidence of their presence has been identified: a beef carcass, a feral horse carcass and an elk carcass. It’s believed the beef and elk carcass were scavenged — dead when the wolves found them.

It’s likely the wolves sighted in Northwest Colorado were pushed south from Wyoming, where the wolf population is now hunted. Long considered an endangered species by the federal government, wolves have exceeded population expectations in states like Wyoming and are being hunted again. In Idaho, more than 650 wolves have been killed this year. “They can’t get on top of it,” Romantzke said of the wolf population in Idaho.

In Colorado, wolf sightings should be reported to CPW. Romantzke urged people not to take matters into their own hands.

Injuring or killing a wolf—or threatening to “shoot, shovel and shut up” on social media–doesn’t help win over undecided voters. 

Romantzke clearly stated that CPW cannot take an official stance on ballot measures, and encouraged attendees to call their government representatives and make themselves heard at CPW regional meetings on issues that may impact their livelihood, as other groups are doing. “If you can help get people who understand wildlife management and ag issues to these meetings, the time is now.”

By Niki Turner | editor@ht1885.com

UPDATED: Friday, March 13, 2020