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Media Releases, Legislative News, Agricultural Updates


Wolf Depredation in Colorado, Where We Stand

April was a tough month for our ranchers in Colorado’s Grand and Jackson counties. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, there were eight confirmed kills of calves and cattle due to wolf depredation over the course of the month.

RMFU has worked hard to protect our members ever since voters approved Northern Gray Wolf reintroduction in 2022. We heavily engaged during the development of the Colorado Wolf Management Plan and during the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session to ensure that there was robust protections and compensation in place for those who are impacted by wolf reintroduction. This involved securing the strongest compensation plans in the country and ensuring available funds for conflict minimization. Additionally, we spent considerable time supporting the completion of a US Fish and Wildlife Service 10(j) rule that was necessary to have in place for lethal management after Northern Gray Wolves were relisted as an endangered species.

One area where we fell short was convincing the Colorado Wildlife Commission to define the term “chronic depredation” in the Wolf Management Plan. This is an important set of standards in determining when to employ lethal control for a wolf that is regularly killing livestock.

The lack of this important definition has led to political influence and the obfuscation from state and federal wildlife agencies as to their responsibility to properly manage this experimental population. At recent meetings, Colorado Parks and Wildlife made it clear that they will not employ lethal control until there are at least 50 established wolves in the state. Chad Franke, RMFU President, recently released the following quote on the matter; “The state of Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have the responsibility under the law and the Wolf Management Plan to mitigate impacts to Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities arising from last year’s wolf introduction. We call on CPW, CDA, and USFWS to immediately work with those bearing the impacts of the introduction by finalizing the definition of “chronic depredation” and using all means, up to and including lethal take, to protect the livelihood of those who make their living providing food for Colorado, the country, and the world.”

We understand that wolf depredation and lethal management brings forward highly emotional responses from different stakeholders. However, even with the lack of a clear “chronic depredation” definition, the Colorado Wolf Management Plan and the federal 10(j) rule sets clear standards for management. These standards do not restrict lethal management during introductory phases. In fact, they actually speak to the value of this type of management being best employed during early phases.

We call on the US Fish and Wildlife Service and their designated agents, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado Department of Agriculture, to not only protect the individual producers who are being directly impacted by this recent depredation but to also create clear parameters to quickly respond to these isolated events in the future. This begins with the establishment of a “chronic depredation” definition and a commitment from our state and federal officials to separate politics from clearly established best management practices for wildlife and livestock conflicts.

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