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It was good to see letters to the editor from Mr. McKay and Gus Halandras about wolf introduction. I would like to add my own letter to the mix.
It bothers me that people talk about the “re-introduction” of the Canadian gray wolf to Colorado. The Canadian gray wolf was never in Colorado. A smaller sub-species of the gray wolf was in Colorado. The last wolf in Rio Blanco County was killed near Meeker in 1919. His hide is in the White River Museum. This sub-species of wolf is now extinct and was never the killing machine that the Canadian gray wolf is. He is an apex predator and answers to no one, except man. Colorado’s moose, elk and deer herds will be decimated by this killing machine.
Canadian gray wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995. At that time the west Yellowstone elk herd was estimated at 19,000 elk. Now, as of January 2020, the herd is less than 1,000. I recently read a quote from a Yellowstone big game biologist that stated it is now hard to find a moose in Yellowstone because of wolves. An example of how deadly the wolf is was documented recently when 90 bachelor bull elk were all killed in 30 days by 11 wolves. The wolves not only kill for food, but for sport. Can you imagine what a pack of wolves will do to a band of sheep on the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. A guard dog will be no match to a pack of wolves. I have a handout from the Stop the Wolf Coalition that shows 176 head of sheep killed by wolves in one night and it doesn’t look like any were eaten — it was done all for sport.
Colorado now has more elk than any other state or Canadian province. If wolves are introduced we can say goodbye to elk hunting enjoyed by so many in our state. Local economies all over the western slope will suffer. Deer and moose will be wiped out also.
The loss by livestock producers will be similar. Ranching families will be put out of business. If wolves are introduced into our state the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife will be responsible for their management. The extra work involved in trying to manage an apex predator plus pay for all the wolf caused livestock damage claims will be in the millions. This money is sportsmen’s dollars raised from the sale of hunting licenses. I don’t think the average sportsman will support paying for managing the very animal that he likes to hunt — plus who will pay for wolf management when all the wildlife is gone and no hunting licenses will be sold?
Then there is the issue of wolves and people’s beloved pets. Wolves kill all dogs because they view them as competitors for territory and food. Wolf attacks on pets in residential areas are rare but it has happened. What about when you and your family are out hiking with your dog and some wolves find your dog? There have been instances of wolves attacking people — see stopthewolfcoalition.org. Mr. McKay in his letter addressed the hydatid cyst disease that wolves carry and can be transmitted to humans.
The proponents of wolf introduction are so misinformed. They say the wolf will “restore natural balance” to the ecosystem by only killing the weak, sick and old prey animals. I’m sure those thousands of elk in Yellowstone were not all weak, sick or old. The proponents seem to think if we introduce wolves to designated lands and state wildlife areas that they will stay there. It is not uncommon for wolf territories to be as large as 50 square miles but it can expand up to 1,000 square miles after all the prey animals have been killed and they need to hunt elsewhere. The proponents of the wolf introduction want to only put them on the western slope of Colorado. Most wolves leave the pack at age 3. Some wolves have been known to travel up to 600 miles upon leaving the pack. Do you think the wolves are going to stay on the western slope?
Colorado, unfortunately, has a ballot initiative available that says if a group can get a required number of signatures then whatever issue they are supporting will go to the ballot and people will vote on the issue. In the early 1990s, the ballot initiative and subsequent vote did away with leg-hold trapping and the spring bear hunt. Now some environmental extremists have gathered enough signatures for the issue of introduction of wolves into Colorado to go to the ballot in November. Mr. Halandras mentioned the fact that the pro-wolf people hired an out-of-state firm to gather the required number of signatures — using trick questions — and I have even heard that some people were being paid for their signature. Managing wildlife by the vote of the people never works. Wildlife management should be left to the wildlife experts.
Our way of life in Meeker will never be the same if wolves are introduced. There are presently several counties on board saying “NO” to the introduction of wolves. Maybe our county commissioners will work with all Colorado counties to get them on board to say no to the introduction — especially the counties on the front range. The liberal people on the front range are the ones that carried the vote against trapping and spring bear hunting — hopefully they won’t do it again.
So you say “what can I do if I am against wolf introduction to Colorado?” Go to the website www.stopthewolf.org and see all the information available. On that site, you can submit your vote of support against the wolf introduction and if so led you can donate money to help fight the introduction. So, this November, I urge you to vote “no” on wolf introduction to Colorado. I also urge you to contact all your friends and family to do the same.
Let’s protect our way of life that we now enjoy here in Meeker!