Wolves Won Big in the Latest Colorado Election

Federal and state laws complicate matters, however

Lots of wolves, on the move.
Eva Blue/Unsplash

Among those who had reasons to celebrate when the results came in from Tuesday’s election? Wolves. No, not Harvey Keitel’s Pulp Fiction character; not the Wolverhampton Wanderers, either. We’re talking about actual wolves here — and they might soon have a home in the state of Colorado.

Go back in time far enough and you’ll find an era when wolves were found living wild all over Colorado. It’s been a while since then, though; they’ve been extinct in the state for almost 60 years. A statewide vote to reintroduce wolves into the state by 2023 passed by a narrow margin, reports Rasha Aridi at The Guardian.

In 1995, scientists reintroduced gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park, which created a more balanced ecosystem and served as a model for success that other programs have since used. Rewilding, as the process is known, has advocates (and opponents) around the world; a recent rewilding effort in Britain placed the spotlight on the movement even more.

As of Thursday, 50.4% of Colorado’s voters were in favor of the plan to being back wolves. That plan could still hit a snag, however. As Aridi writes at The Guardian, a recent federal decision complicates matters.

“[T]he Trump administration delisted gray wolves from the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) after announcing the species’ ‘successful recovery,’” Aridi notes — a decision made last week. This puts decisions about wolves in the hands of states; given that gray wolves are endangered in Colorado but not in Wyoming — they can, in fact, be shot on sight in the latter state — you might see where problems could come up.

Still, the Colorado vote is a bold move in favor of conservation, and it could have a big impact on the local ecosystem in the years and decades to come.

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