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Western Slope Legislators introduce bills that impact wolf reintroduction in Colorado

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Posted at 8:39 AM, Mar 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-30 20:11:56-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A group of western slope legislators has introduced bipartisan legislation to mitigate wolf reintroduction impacts in Colorado.

Senate Bill 256, would place a requirement that the state obtains a 10J rule from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This would allow the state to operate with USFWS to manage gray wolves as an “experimental population and it would allow ranchers to use lethal action if their livestock is in immediate danger.”

Senate Bill 255 creates a wolf compensation fund which allows funds to be put aside for ranchers who lose livestock to wolves.

House Bill 1265 would create a “Born to Be Wild” license plate for Coloradans to purchase. The plate would honor wildlife. The excess funds collected from this specialty license plate would be given to ranchers and farmers to use for nonlethal methods that mitigate and prevent conflict with wolves.

I caught up with rancher Don Gittleson, he lost two of his cows, and one calf to gray wolves who have migrated into the state. He tells me these three bills are what the state needs to do in order for ranchers like himself to believe Colorado is ready to reintroduce gray wolves this year.

“Hopefully they don’t bring wolves before they have the 10J rule in place completely, which is going to be a long process because the day after that gets finalized, it’s going to be back in court,” said Gittleson.

“I think you’re doing a lot of bipartisan support for the bills. You see a lot of people supporting their constituents about when they’re going to have to deal with this.”

 Here is what Representative Meghan Lukens has to say about the bipartisan action.

“I am proud to be sponsoring these bills alongside members of both parties. This is a bipartisan effort that prioritizes our ranching and farming communities,” said Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs. “These bills are all a direct response to appeals from our constituents on the Western Slope – specifically the 10J Rule and compensation bills – and are imperative to supporting our agricultural communities as we navigate ramifications of wolves."

Wolf advocacy groups who oppose 10J are worried the bill would lead to lethal methods against gray wolves. Per Senate Bill 256, if any groups decide to sue the state over Senate Bill 256 or USFWS over 10J, reintroduction would be delayed until all litigation over 10j is resolved.


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