“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”
–Rudyard Kipling, “The Law for the Wolves”
Literature has often reflected the contradictory relationship between humans and wolves: wise and considerate in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” and murderous predators in the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood.”
Historically, in the competition between humans and wolves, wolves were the losers. Grey wolves are considered an extirpated species. An extirpated species is an animal that no longer exists in the wild in its historical habitat but still exists elsewhere. The elimination of the wolf in Colorado began in the 1800s and was complete by 1940.
However, a ballot initiative in Colorado may mean the call of the wild will return to Colorado lands west of the continental divide. If passed, Colorado Ballot Proposition 114 requires the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to create and carry out a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves in Colorado by the end of 2023. The location of wolf reintroductions would be determined by the commission. The commission would also manage the distribution of state funds to compensate owners of livestock for any losses to gray wolves.
One claim made by proponents of the measure is that reintroducing wolves will result in a healthier ecosystem by culling weak members of elk and deer populations. However, opponents such as outfitters express concern that wolves will decimate already thinned elk populations and ranchers fear the wolves will attack their herds. This program will give both sides the opportunity to share all their claims.
Montana state senator Mike Phillips has worked in wolf conservation and recovery for decades and will speak in support of this measure. He will be joined by Shawn Martini, vice president of Advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau, who will speak against the ballot initiative. Rob LeVine will moderate this discussion.
We’d like to thank the Sierra Club for promoting this important program to their membership.
Our virtual programs are graciously sponsored by Alpine Bank. Colorado Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities have also provided funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.