In late 2020, Colorado voters did something relatively unprecedented in the nation’s history by voting to reintroduce wolves to the state. That process, several years in the works now, will involve transplanting wolves from Oregon — and even though the measure was given the goahead three years ago, some opponents of the measure remain skeptical. That in and of itself isn’t too surprising; you’d think that if people changed their mind on how they’d voted, it would likely happen after wolves returned to Colorado, and that hasn’t happened yet.
A recent article at NPR by Kurt Siegler offers a good overview of the issues at stake here — and a reminder of why there was support for the measure to bring back wolves in the state in the first place.
To start with, Colorado has a lot of elk. Nearly twice as much as Montana, Siegler writes. That elk population also played a role in determining which wolves would be imported into the state, as Oregon’s wolves also have a penchant for snacking on elk.
Some advocates for the wolves have argued that, while the state’s population is growing, there’s plenty of room for everyone. “Along the highways we have a lot of development, but if you get in an airplane and you fly over out here, there’s a lot of untouched wilderness,” Pitkin County Commission chair Francie Jacober told NPR.
Exploring the Secret History of WolvesErica Berry’s new book “Wolfish” takes a unique look at the relationship between humans and wolves
Part of the debate around wolves also has to do with their elusiveness. “One rancher referred to wolves as really ghostly in their presence,” Wolfish author Erica Berry told InsideHook earlier this year. “That feels like that’s increased the sort of mystery around them, just by the nature of their biology.” We’re about to see that mystery get a bit more clarified in one western state.
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