Local agricultural groups join forces to fight wolf reintroduction

RBC I Rio Blanco Stockgrowers Association, Rio Blanco County Farm Bureau members, and Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers Association are joining forces to oppose the dangerous ballot initiative that will force wolf introduction on Colorado’s Western Slope. These local agriculture organizations are coordinating Dance Without Wolves, a fundraiser to provide information and education about the negative impacts wolves would bring to our rural communities.

“Our community and others like ours on the Western Slope are the ones that will be impacted first by this measure,” said Brian Collins, Rio Blanco Stockgrowers President and a local rancher. “We need to unite to protect our way of life and counter this serious economic threat to our families and local businesses. We are asking our neighbors to take action and support this event as a means to fight back.”

The dinner and dance will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. beginning with happy hour, followed by a steak dinner at 7 p.m., and dancing to the Mainline Band after dinner. There will be a live and silent auction to assist with fundraising. Tickets are required for the event and available for $25 each.

In November, voters in Colorado will decide whether or not to force wolf introduction along the state’s Western Slope by voting on Initiative 107, a measure funded significantly by large out-of-state donors. This measure goes against state wildlife experts who have already rejected the introduction of wolves into the state multiple times and have a “free-ranging” wolf plan in place backed by scientific processes, research and expert guidance. The Coloradans Protecting Wildlife group and its supporters say management should be done by the experts, not by the ballot box. The measure is expected to cost taxpayers state-wide nearly $6 million over eight years. Based on the serious economic impacts experienced in neighboring states with the Canadian wolf, the toll on our local community will likely be much more.

Rio Blanco Farm Bureau President Janice Weinholdt said, “We enjoy an idyllic lifestyle with the largest elk herd in America and other abundant wildlife essentially in our backyard. Cattle and sheep ranching preserve a significant amount of our open space and visual aesthetics. All of this will be devastated by forced wolf introduction. We need to protect these historic treasures and our way of life in this valley we call home.”

Tickets are available in Meeker at Parts City, MGM, the Rio Blanco Farm Bureau office, and in Rangely at Nichols Store or by calling 970-220-2154 or 970-620-6088.

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  1. Although some people repeatedly claim that wolves will “”put ranchers out of business,”” this is not supported by facts. Based on over 25 years of data from Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, we know that 99.95% of livestock that share territory with wolves will not ever have a negative encounter with wolves.

    Wolves do kill livestock, but these incidents are infrequent and largely preventable when ranchers take proper measures. Under current plans, when depredation does occur, ranchers will be compensated at fair market value. Good animal husbandry practices go a long way toward minimizing conflicts between large carnivores and livestock.

    In Colorado, we have the opportunity to pioneer new and innovative ways of fostering coexistence with wolves. For example, why couldn’t we pay ranchers who host wolves on their private land, rather than only if they experience a depredation event?

    Resources: https://defenders.org/issues/promoting-coexistence

  2. The claim that wolves have “decimated” their prey populations in the states where they were reintroduced is patently false. Here are the numbers, starting with 1995, when wolves were reintroduced.

    1995 elk population = 103,448
    2017 elk population = 104, 800

    1995 elk harvest = 17,695
    2017 elk harvest = 24,535, average hunter success rate = 35%

    1995 elk population = 109,500
    2018 elk population = 138,470

    No harvest data for 1995
    2017 elk harvest = 30,348

    1995 elk population = 112,333
    2017 elk population = 116,800

    1995 elk harvest = 22,400
    2017 elk harvest = 22,751

    Source: State Fish & Game agencies.

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