Colorado & Utah RMEF Members,
It was just two months ago that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation issued a word of warning about a “quiet” movement to return wolves to Colorado. That movement is quiet no more.
An environmental group calling itself the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project has launched a website, social media channels and is currently circulating a petition with a goal of “restoring Colorado’s natural balance.” It also states “after successful reintroduction efforts in places like Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, it is Colorado’s turn to restore this voice to the wild.”
This group is an alliance of environmental activist groups. These are same groups that said one thing and did another in the Northern Rockies wolf reintroductions; and they continue with the same tactics today relative to the delisting of grizzly bears, which are now well past recovery goals. Additionally, a review of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project’s website shows the following “The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s largest fiscal sponsor.” A Google search of the Tides Center provides an interesting perspective on this whole effort as well.
Let’s be very clear. There’s a history lesson here we all need to understand, if we don’t already. As we’ve experienced in the Northern Rockies, once the door is open to formal wolf reintroduction programs, those promoting such efforts will then ignore all agreed upon recovery goals and delisting criteria. They move the goalposts, twist the science and file lawsuit after lawsuit that allow populations to swell far above recovery goals and have measureable detrimental impacts on elk, deer, moose and other wildlife.
It happened in Montana. It happened in Idaho. It happened in Wyoming. And it happened in the Great Lakes. What the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project is proposing is unnecessary and would have significant impacts on Colorado and Utah similar to those the aforementioned states continue to face. The fact is that wolves are already moving into Colorado through natural dispersion from the Northern Rockies wolf introduction. Management of these wolves, like all Colorado wildlife, should be left for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to manage. A formal reintroduction of wolves into western Colorado will result in wolves in Utah as well.
There is also push-back against science-based wolf management activities in Washington where the population grew by 28 percent in the last year. Environmental groups in Oregon, including some from this same alliance, are currently trying to eliminate state management of wolves altogether in the courts, despite the fact wolves have naturally dispersed into Oregon from the Yellowstone project.
The bottom line is groups like this seek to eliminate the state-based management of wildlife which goes against the successful principles of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. They are also hyper-focused on placing one species, the wolf, above all others by ignoring science-based objectives and delisting criteria. It is also well known that these groups use the wolf as a major fundraising tool and yet they put little to no monies into real conservation, wildlife habit restoration or state-based management. For the future of our wildlife, this is a path we simply cannot afford to go down.
NOW is the time to raise our voices. First and foremost, be civil in your debate and language. Vulgar language or hyped up statements like “kill them all” get us nowhere. Stick to the facts and the science. States must manage all wildlife or our wildlife management system eventually fails. Get involved in sportsmen forums, write letters to the editor, contact Colorado Parks & Wildlife and your local lawmakers, and offer science-based education via your social media channels. RMEF will soon provide more resources to better discuss and debate the realities of wolf reintroductions
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