MINERAL COUNTY — Mineral County commissioners passed Resolution 2021-9, reaffirming their opposition to the artificial reintroduction of wolves into the county.
The resolution states that Mineral County is in support of the natural migration of both Canadian and Mexican wolves into the state but opposes the artificial reintroduction process of the animals due to the large number of animal herds both wild and domestic in the area.
During the meeting on Tuesday, May 18, Mineral County Administrator Janelle Kukuk read resolution 2021-9 and highlighted points on the artificial reintroduction of Canadian wolves, stating that on Nov. 3 during the 2020 Colorado Election, Proposition 114 was passed by a slim margin and that the majority of voters in Mineral County voted against the measure.
According to information provided through Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “Proposition 114, a ballot initiative directing the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop a plan to introduce gray wolves onto the Western Slope of Colorado, passed on Nov. 3, 2020. Proposition 114 directs the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves in Colorado no later than Dec. 31, 2023, on designated lands west of the Continental Divide; Hold statewide hearings about scientific, economic, and social considerations; Periodically obtain public input to update the plan; and use state funds to assist livestock owners in preventing conflicts with gray wolves and pay fair compensation for livestock losses. At its January 2021 meeting, the Parks and Wildlife Commission provided CPW staff with guidance to begin creating a robust, adaptive management plan to reintroduce wolves in Colorado no later than Dec. 31, 2023.”
Resolution 2021-9 states, “Whereas Proposition 114 received an affirmative vote in only five Western Slope Counties, including Pitkin, Summit, San Miguel, San Juan and La Plata counties, and whereas the economy of Mineral County is boosted by the summer grazing of sheep and cattle and in the fall is reliant on big game hunting and outfitting and wildlife watching and whereas big game unit 76 makes up the majority of Mineral County and is a restrictive draw unit creating high demand on licenses and outfitters.”
It continues to explain that Mineral County is in support of natural migration of wolf species to the area that has been taking place for several years and was confirmed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Wolves used to be a natural wildlife species in Colorado until the population was wiped out due to excessive fur trades in the early 1940s.
The resolution highlights the need to manage wolf populations within the county in the best way possible while protecting the tourism and agricultural aspects of the economy. The resolution states that research has concluded that in areas where wolves have been reintroduced that big game and herd numbers have been significantly reduced due to the presence of the animals and issues continue to rise because of reintroduction efforts.
According to information provided through Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “Colorado is part of the gray wolf’s native range, but wolves were eradicated from the state by the 1940s. Over the past decade, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) restored gray wolves into Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona. Individual wolves, and most recently a group of wolves in Moffat County, have been periodically migrating into Colorado. It is possible that wolves from the south may do so someday as well.”
Commissioners passed Resolution 2021-9 in a unanimous vote.