Ranchers to be compensated up to $8,000 for each head lost to wolf depredation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says

This and more to be covered during Feb. 7 wolf restoration meeting in Rifle

Ray K. Erku
Post Independent

RIFLE — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is coming to Rifle next week to discuss and collect public feedback over the state’s contentious plan to restore gray wolves in its ecosystem.

The meeting is slated for 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College Rifle, 3695 Airport Road. Anyone who can’t attend the meeting in-person but are interested in making a public comment can fill out a form online, at The deadline for filling out and submitting this public comment document is Feb. 22.

CPW Public Information Officer Rachael Gonzales said people showing up to the Rifle meeting in-person will be allowed to speak on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“They’ll show up, sign up and in the order they signed up in is the order they’ll provide public comment,” she said.

The meeting will be led by Reid DeWalt and Eric Odell, two CPW officials tasked with creating the Draft Wolf Restoration and Management Plan. This plan, found on CPW’s Wolves – Stay Informed page, details exactly how CPW is going to regulate a self-sustaining population of gray wolves in Colorado. CPW Game Damage Manager Luke Hoffman is also attending.

“The plan is predicated on managing wolves in Colorado using an impact-based management framework,” DeWalt, a CPW Assistant Director for Aquatic, Terrestrial and Natural Resources, told the CPW Commission last month.

“We expect that the vast majority of wolves are not going to be impacted in any kind of conflict anywhere in the state.”

The plan itself stems from a petition created in 2019 by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, a citizen-led group based in Louisville. The effort received enough signatures (215,370) and, in the November 2020 election, Colorado voters narrowly passed Proposition 114 — the reintroduction of wolves.

Ever since, the effort has raised several concerns from ranchers and environmentalists both for and against the plan. Some environmentalists are still skeptical of CPW’s plan to potentially put down wolves that attack livestock. Meanwhile, one major concern from ranchers is that wolves could affect their bottom line.

CPW Commissioner Chair Carrie Besnette Hauser said last month that the goal is to develop a plan that the majority of the public will support and one that represents reasonable compromise.

“This is historic for Colorado,” she said. “And we will do it well.”

The CPW has so far held two meetings over the reintroduction plan, one in Colorado Springs on Jan. 19 and another in Gunnison on Jan. 25. In addition to Rifle, two more meetings will be held: one virtually, and one in-person in Denver.

Each one addresses issues like nonlethal conflict mitigation, as well as potential compensation the CPW provides in the event a wolf attacks livestock.

Odell, a Species Conservation Program Manager and biological lead for the wolf project, said the CPW is offering up to $8,000 per head directly lost due to wolf depredation.

“CPW has developed additional compensation options to address missing calves and sheep,” he said last month.

The CPW will provide a final draft plan with proposed regulations in Steamboat Springs on April 6. The CPW Commission is set to vote on the final plan May 3-4 in Glenwood Springs.

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