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In Historic Vote, Coloradans Give Thumbs-Up For Gray Wolves to Be Reintroduced West of the Rockies


Fresh out of his recovery of the list of endangered species, the gray wolves are receiving other support to ensure their continued recovery, this time from voters in Colorado.

On Tuesday, Coloradans voted to reintroduce wolves to the northwestern part of the state, and it was a historic proposal because never has a state delegated such an important wildlife management decision to its citizens.

By a narrow margin of 20,000 votes, it was agreed that the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife should establish a suitable population west of the Rocky Mountain continental divide by the end of 2023.

A big focus of reintroduction authorities will be to implement the initiative while working alongside ranchers and homeowners who voted against the resolution.

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The poaching of livestock by wolves is seen as a problem that could be solved with an insurance program, and conflict prevention programs between wolves are being suggested to help other food producers, such as farmers, avoid unpleasant interactions.

A little push

Wolves that were reintroduced into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in Wyoming, after being hunted to near extinction, have occasionally roamed south into Colorado, leading some scientists to suggest that a natural expansion into Colorado will be good for genetic diversity. of the species.

Joel Berger, a wildlife ecologist at Colorado State University, suggested Nat Geo that 25 years since the wolves were reintroduced to the GYEOnly a full herd has ever crossed into Colorado, and that at that rate it could take a century to see populations fully recover.

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Unlike most other animals, as efforts to save black footed ferret In Wyoming, for example, public opinion about wolves is extremely fierce, with urban voters captured by the animal’s charismatic symbolism as an icon of nature, but never having to live with them, the opposing ranchers, hunters and rural dwellers often see them as destructive pests.

Environmentalists hope to cushion some of the mistrust of rural Coloradans by pointing to some of the ecological benefits to have wolves in the landscape. Overly large herds of elk and mule deer can overgraze fields, leading to soil erosion and creek bank collapse, as well as poorer genetics and further spread of disease.

Apex predators like the wolf can mitigate the occasional destructive forces of ungulates and support other carnivores like wolverines, stoats, eagles, foxes and more, leaving the killings behind. Plants also benefit from this more balanced ecosystem.

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Finally, a presence in the plains on the western side of the southern Rocky Mountains will link wolves living in the north with gray wolves living alone on the Mexico border, creating an unparalleled opportunity for genetic diversity.

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