How long will the state continue to classify wolves as an endangered species?
To answer this question, one must enter into complicated legal distinctions.
In Colorado, wolves are listed as a federally and stately endangered species. Under both laws, anyone who kills a wolf inside state lines faces a $100,000 fine, up to a year in jail, and could have their hunting privileges revoked.
While federal law currently trumps Colorado’s protections, state protections will likely matter more in the future. That’s because the state applied to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for a permit that would give Colorado Parks and Wildlife more control over the wolf population and the reintroduction process.
If Colorado gets the permit — known as a 10(j) permit — the state could loosen wolf protections over time. The technical working group has advised reclassifying wolves as an “endangered” species if the state has more than 50 wolves in four successive winters, which would allow for more lethal wolf management. If the known population reaches more than 200, the state may reconsider all protections.
A coalition of environmental groups opposed the landmarks, prompting him to publish his own wolf reintroduction plan in July.
Will state wildlife officials be able to kill ‘problem’ wolves?
In its recommendations, the technical working group noted that lethal and non-lethal wolf management are “crucially important tools” for minimizing conflict with livestock and humans. He advised that both be available for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
But the panel noted that killing wolves likely has downsides. While this may help protect livestock, it could test public support for state wolf strategies and harm the effort to build a sustainable population.
Before killing wolves, the panel said the state should conduct a transparent process to investigate livestock deaths, educate the public and explore non-lethal alternatives.
Will the state allow regulated wolf hunts?
The possibility of allowing wolf hunting is a major concern for environmental groups.
In their alternative plan released in July, WildEarth Guardians and other environmental and conservation advocates demanded that Colorado commit to always classifying gray wolves as a “non-game species,” which would block a program public hunting.
State task forces are agnostic on wolf hunts. In its final recommendations, the stakeholder advisory group included a statement advising the national wildlife agency against taking a position on public hunting, saying the topic should only be considered if and when wolves reach a sustainable population. .
“Members are concerned that a decision on regulated public hunting in the planning process could overshadow other key elements of the plan and should not be decided at this time,” the statement said.
How will herders be compensated for livestock losses?
Colorado maintains an existing program to pay ranchers the market value of any livestock lost to wolves and other wildlife.
During their meetings, the Stakeholder Advisory Group considered a menu of alternative compensation structures to pay ranchers for any additional costs associated with raising livestock in close proximity to wolves. This could include issues such as limited weight gain due to nearby predators or the cost of non-lethal control measures, such as fencing or hazing.
Two ideas won the most support from panel members. One would be to determine the compensation by multiplying the value of the animals lost by a certain ratio to cover the additional costs. Other states already have similar programs. Washington State pays double the total confirmed damage. Wyoming pays up to a 7-to-1 ratio.
Another plan would allow ranchers to itemize financial losses and recover those costs from the state. This would give breeders a way to claim the value of lost animals as well as additional losses due to lower weight gain or lower conception rates.
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