Letter to the Editor: There are opportunities to make Colorado a wildlife sanctuary

Rose Pray

In 2023, gray wolves will be restored to Colorado — where wolves once roamed freely throughout the state. The big question is: where will they be reintroduced?

Not near population centers where they will encounter cars, concrete, congestion and potential conflicts with humans and their pets. Not near ranches and allotments where their native prey have been replaced by cattle.

Colorado is blessed with millions of acres of public land. As an example, the Weminuche Wilderness in southwestern Colorado is so vast that one can walk for days in the forest and not encounter another soul, and where prey for wolves is available and abundant. Why not restore wolves to such a habitat where they will have a chance to thrive and multiply?

The “where” wolves will be restored is still being debated. The “how” they will be managed is another question.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been tasked with managing the returning wolves. Currently, over 50% of the agency’s funding comes from hunting and fishing licenses and park passes. The wildlife commission, a citizen board, which sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks and wildlife, is dominated by commissioners representing hunting and agriculture interests.

With the retirement of Dan Prenzlow, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in November, Colorado has an opportunity to select a new director who can move the agency in a fresh direction, one that balances hunting and ranching concerns with wildlife and habitat conservation.

With the potential for more federal funding to preserve endangered wildlife and their habitats from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, Parks and Wildlife can take the lead in making Colorado a sanctuary for wildlife, including a sanctuary for our returning gray wolves.

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