The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project—Re-establishing the Species in Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project aims to improve public understanding of gray wolf behavior, ecology, and options for re-establishing the species in Colorado. The benchmark of our success: Wolves again roaming the snow-capped peaks, rim rock canyons, and primeval forests of western Colorado. To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Click Here.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project works to:

Disseminate Science-Based Information about wolves and dispel existing myths. Engage Coloradans about the reality of co-existing with wolves, including ways to mitigate the effects on hunters, ranchers, and others concerned about wolves. Cultivate Enthusiasm among Coloradans about returning wolves to the Western half of the state.

Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Coalition is comprised of individuals and organizations—from wildlife biologists to Colorado landowners to conservationists—dedicated to returning wolves to Colorado. We will encourage thoughtful, public conversation with all stakeholders, including ranchers and sportsmen. To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Click Here.

Take Action

Re-establishing wolves in western Colorado could connect the entire North American wolf population. It would be difficult to overestimate the biological and conservation value of this achievement. Click Here to Make Your Voice Heard

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Letter to the Editor – Brodie Farquhar: Wolves, humans can coexist

Source: Steamboat Today 

Dear Editor,
My compliments to Jim Patterson for his “Crying Wolf” feature Sunday. It was well done and covered the basics of the issue. I appreciate this, because I’ve covered wolf recovery issues for Wyoming news media for much of the past decade.

I want to bring up some additional facts and perspectives, to give Steamboat Today readers a broader understanding of wolf management in the United States.

For example, there are about 4,000 wolves in the Great Lakes area, and the presence of wolves does not produce the sheer panic, fear and hatred that is common in Rocky Mountain communities. My research and interviews with wolf biology/policy experts in the Great Lakes states indicates that, because Great Lakes wolf populations were never eradicated, residents are accustomed to wolves and don’t get freaked out as the population of wolves has grown. There is an over-abundance of deer in those states, and plenty of prey for wolves. Predation on livestock has been minimal.

If wolves ever become established in Northwest Colorado — a matter of when, rather than if — they have some daunting challenges to overcome.

First, there’s the gauntlet to be run between protected ground in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the habitat of Northwest Colorado. Wyoming’s policy and cultural attitude about wolves comes down to protected status in the parks, permitted hunting in a buffer zone near the parks, then a kill zone in the rest of the state.
By kill zone, I mean kill them anywhere, anytime, by any means, by anyone, for any or no reason. That’s the official policy, which has not changed and has been repeatedly struck down in federal courts.
That policy, enunciated by the legislature, the governor and wildlife agency is a direct reflection of the core culture found in the agricultural community — known as the Three S’s:
Shoot wolves (or kill them by any other means).

Shovel them deep, hiding the evidence from the feds and environmentalists.
Shut-up about any wolf killings, aside from winks and nods at the coffee shop or bar.
I suspect the Three S’s have been in operation for some time in northwest Colorado. Informally, regional ag interests have no interest in having wolves set up in local forests or wilderness areas. Poisons, traps and rifles are all used on any young wolves, male or female, looking to find a new home and pack.

It really doesn’t have to be that way. Defenders of Wildlife has worked for decades on non-lethal techniques to discourage wolves from preying on livestock. Where ranchers and wool growers have adopted these non-lethal approaches, there have been encouraging success stories, with fewer deaths among livestock and wolves alike. Wolves do learn, and there are alpha wolves out there who avoid livestock and people, enforcing that avoidance among juveniles.

Techniques include the use of range riders, guardian dogs, electric fencing and estartlement tools such as bright lights, loud sounds and flapping strips of plastic called fladry.

It hasn’t been perfect, but neither has it been all-out war on wolves with excessive damage to wildlife and habitat. Yellowstone National Park has gone from being over-grazed by elk before wolf restoration, to healthier habitat and greater wildlife diversity with the return of wolves. It is called the trophic cascade effect by biologists. Generally, wolves can help create a healthier, more diverse habitat, without wreaking carnage on livestock flocks and herds. Maybe, Patterson could do a Sunday feature on non-lethal techniques.

Again, good job.
Sincerely,
Brodie Farquhar
Hayden

~~~

Featured image by John E Marriott Photography

Opinion Editorial: Wolves belong back home in Colorado

Source: Colorado Springs Independent by Andrew Gulliford

March 09, 2016

In January, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted not to allow the reintroduction of wolves back into the state.
That’s too bad, because wolves are coming. They may already be here. You don’t think so? Then why is there a wolf-sighting form on the wildlife commission’s website, and why do so many Coloradans claim to have seen Canis lupus in the high country?
Theories on how top-tier predators are crucial in ordering and stabilizing landscapes have now been proven. To understand the potential for wolves in Colorado, we can study lessons learned from two decades of wolf recovery in Yellowstone National Park.
I teach my college students that wolves brought butterflies back to Yellowstone. I explain that wolves cut the coyote population in half. With fewer coyotes there are more small rodents and mammals aerating the soil and providing better grasses and flowers. But the largest and most dramatic effect has been culling the Yellowstone elk herd.
By 1995 the ungulates had done severe damage to the park. Wolves changed that. As wolf packs began to hunt elk, the wapiti were slowed and caught in downed timber along rivers and streams. So elk learned safety meant higher sagebrush benches where they could see and smell better.
With fewer elk, plants recovered. Aspen thrived. And in this new thicker forest of riverine vegetation, beaver colonies established small pools, attracting other animals, insects, and yes, butterflies.
So who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf? Hunters who see fewer elk, ranchers worried about their cattle, and sheep men forced to adopt new herding techniques. I’m a big game hunter. Why would I promote more competition for the cow elk I like to shoot? Because I believe in intact ecosystems. I believe hard science trumps superstition and false facts.
It’s been over a decade since the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission convened its Wolf Working Group. It’s time for a new working group to convene and for wolf education sessions to start as well. The latter were a goal in the group’s original report but they have never taken place.
Would wolves change Colorado ecosystems? Yes, but first, they have to get here, and that’s anything but easy. Wolves would have to cross the Red Desert of Wyoming and Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, where many ranchers carry rifles in their pickups.
That’s why official reintroduction is important. In the Mount Zirkel, Maroon Bells, Raggeds, or South San Juan wildernesses, we only need a breeding pair. A young male and female with amorous intent.
In June 2004, a wolf died along Interstate 70 after being hit by a car. Five years later, in 2009, a GPS-collared wolf traveled 3,000 miles before dying from a banned poison in Rio Blanco County. In April 2015, a coyote hunter accidentally killed a gray wolf near Kremmling, 100 miles west of Denver.
Wolves are coming, slowly. Colorado Parks and Wildlife even has a 10-year-old plan, “Findings and Recommendations for Managing Wolves that Migrate into Colorado.” Strategies involve adaptive management and damage payments for livestock killed.
What’s more, “Migrating wolves should be allowed to live with no boundaries where they find habitat,” and “Wolf distribution in Colorado will ultimately be defined by the interplay between ecological needs and social tolerance.” Once here, state wildlife staff “will implement programs to make sure that wolves are included as a part of wildlife heritage.”
If wolves are returning, why not also reintroduce them and boost genetic diversity? Yet in 1982, 1989, and again last month, the state’s Wildlife Commission voted to oppose “the intentional release of any wolves into Colorado.” That decision is regrettable.
If wolves arrive on their own, we’ll have to live with where they appear. If wolves are introduced, there can be more flexibility on where they live and more planned ecological impacts. Wolf reintroduction first requires a positive vote from the Colorado State Wildlife Commission. A second affirmative vote must come from the Colorado State Legislature. When I tell my college students that wolves are coming home to Colorado, I always add that I hope I’ll be around to see them take hold. We need them back.
  

Gulliford is a contributor to Writers on the Range, an opinion service of High Country News (hcn.org), where this column first appeared. He teaches history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College.



Letter to the editor: Wolves belong here despite governors’ resistance

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune January 19, 2016

Whose interests are the Four Corners governors looking after in signing a compact stating they don’t want wolves in their states? Certainly not the interests of wildlife, watersheds or the majority of their human constituents.
Most ranchers believe that wolves and humans can’t live together, but wild wolves don’t attack humans (unlike grizzlies, cougars, dogs and bulls). Many organizations compensate for calf losses to wildlife.
Wilderness is the true home of wolves. Utah has a lot. Elk are overrunning ranges in southern Utah. Wolves would bring this into balance. Ecosystems long suffering from predator/prey imbalances are getting healthy again where wolves have returned, most notably along waterways, where willow, cottonwood and aspen forests are regrowing and banks are stabilizing. Wolves are a major missing biological component in our Mountain West ecosystems. We all benefit by their return.
With the governors of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico apparently in the pocket of paranoid ranchers and other public lands users and abusers, scientists will not be allowed to orchestrate the wolf’s comeback. The guvs want more political and industry appointees to call the shots and want to dismantle the current team of world experts recommending more wolves for the Four Corners states.
Our America?
Dan Kent
Moab