Wolves Won Big in the Latest Colorado Election
Federal and state laws complicate matters, however
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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