Colorado wildlife and the ques­tion of in­tro­duc­ing wolves

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

Re: “Parks & Wildlife should wel­come wolves,” Jan. 13 guest com­men­tary.

Tay­lor Jones iden­ti­fies hun­ters as the “nar­row range” in­ter­est group that im­poses its bi­ases upon state wildlife agen­cies purely be­cause of the money it gen­er­ates from the sale of hunt­ing li­censes. Not true.

Across North Amer­ica, through their dol­lars do­nated, fundrais­ing ef­forts and vol­un­teerism, hun­ters have helped to con­serve, re­store and en­hance ex­po­nen­tially more land on be­half of wildlife than any other group.

Since 1937, Ducks Un­lim­ited has re­stored and con­served more than 13 mil­lion acres. The Rocky Moun­tain Elk Foun­da­tion has con­served more than 772,000 acres.

To say hun­ters op­pose “the vast ma­jor­ity of us who value keep­ing wildlife alive” is wildly in­ac­cu­rate and un­fair. Wolves prey on deer and elk, and they do it at their own pace. They aren’t is­sued a lim­ited num­ber of li­censes each year to kill, nor are they con­fined to one area. They can’t be read­ily reg­u­lated to en­sure prop­erly main­tained big-game pop­u­la­tions.

If in­tro­duced, wolves will thrive here and they will have a large im­pact on Colorado’s res­i­dent deer and elk. State wildlife agen­cies don’t just care about the money, they lis­ten to what hun­ters have to say be­cause hun­ters truly care about proper wildlife man­age­ment.

Tyler Pearce, Car­bon­dale

I want to thank Tay­lor Jones for mak­ing the one point I have been try­ing to ex­plain to all who will lis­ten to me: Colorado needs wolves. Be­fore the gray wolf was rein­tro­duced into Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park in 1994, the elk pop­u­la­tion was con­ser­va­tively es­ti­mated at about 20,000. Twenty years later, af­ter the gray wolf rein­tro­duc­tion, the elk herd pop­u­la­tion is now around 5,000 to 6,000, which is much closer to his­toric lev­els, and there is a more bal­anced ecosys­tem in Yel­low­stone Park.

Colorado has one of the largest elk pop­u­la­tions in the world. Ac­cord­ing to the 2014 pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mates by Colorado Parks & Wildlife, there are ap­prox­i­mately 279,000 elk in the state of Colorado. The beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral habi­tat of Colorado is in dire need of preda­tors to save it from over­pop­u­la­tion of deer and elk, and there is none bet­ter suited to do that than the gray wolf.

Alex Marks, Ev­er­green

As­so­ci­ated Press file

Colorado’s wildlife com­mis­sion de­cided last week to op­pose the re­lease of Mex­i­can and gray wolves in the state.

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