A historic victory for gray wolves in Colorado election

“These are things that signal the fact that all is right ecologically, that wildness has returned.”

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After 45 years on the endangered species list, the gray wolf has successfully been removed and Colorado voters are further supporting and ensuring their recovery via Proposition 114 which passed last week. 

The wolves are native to the state but were completely wiped out there by the mid-1940s. Millions of gray wolves once called North America their home, but they were shot, trapped, and poisoned to near-extinction to make way for western development and livestock, reports The Verge

A “yes” vote for Proposition 114 supports requiring the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to create a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves on designated lands west of the continental divide by the end of 2023.

The proposition won by a narrow margin of 20,000 votes. 

According to Good News Network, a big focus of the reintroduction authorities will be to implement the initiative while working alongside the ranchers and homeowners who voted against the resolution. Cattle poaching by wolves is being looked at as a problem that could be solved with an insurance program—and wolf-conflict prevention programs are being suggested to help other food producers like farmers avoid unpleasant interactions. 

Wolves that were previously introduced into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in Wyoming have been seen roaming into Colorado causing scientists to believe their natural expansion included the state of Colorado. 

Unfortunately, unlike many other species, the wolf is often seen as a pest, especially by ranchers, hunters, and rural dwellers. But ecologists are hoping to alleviate some of that mistrust by pointing out some ecological benefits of the wolf.  

“People who like to hike and backpack, they will be treated to the occasional fleeting glimpse of a wolf, maybe. Maybe while they’re camped, they’ll hear the howl of a wolf at night. These are things that signal the fact that all is right ecologically, that wildness has returned,” says Diana Tomback, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Colorado Denver who has also served on the science advisory team of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project.

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