Below is a staff editorial published by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on 6/26/2019. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation strongly opposes the forced wolf introduction and agrees with the premise of the article that wildlife decisions should be made by wildlife management professionals at Colorado Parks and Wildlife and not via ballot box biology.
Wolf reintroduction is a touchy subject — on par with the Electoral College and the national popular vote movement.
Anytime either topic lands on a newspaper page, we’re certain to get letters. While wolves and voting have nothing in common — aside from their polarizing nature — both are the object of proposed ballot measures.
One is a far better fit for this vehicle. While we have expressed concern with the prospect of using the citizens initiative process to overturn a duly passed law, Colorado voters are certainly qualified to weigh in on how they want their votes applied to the process of electing a president.
But wolves? Aside from the folks who have some kind of background in ecology, how is the average voter supposed to know whether wolf reintroduction is a good idea?
This is the kind of complex issue that would be better served by the Legislature taking expert testimony from wildlife scientists. Does anybody else’s opinion really matter? Ranchers, of course, would say yes, their opinion matters. But the whole conceit here is that predation is part of the equation. The question is whether the overall ecological benefits outweigh ranching and wildlife impacts or any other drawbacks.
Is that something the average voter is prepared to answer? We don’t self-diagnose whether we need cholesterol-lowering medication or have faulty heart valves. When it comes to medicine or legal matters, we rely on the fiduciary responsibility of professionals to act in our best interests.
But this proposed ballot measure — Initiative 107 — doesn’t ponder whether it’s a good idea. It just directs the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop a plan to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado “using the best scientific data available” and “designed to resolve conflicts with persons engaged in ranching and farming,” according to the Colorado Sun’s Jason Blevins.
Moreover, it’s the Western Slope where the wolves would be reintroduced. That makes it easy for the Front Range voters to love the idea of wolves roaming free in Colorado without worrying too much about pets becoming wolf snacks.
The Colorado Secretary of State on Friday approved a petition seeking signatures to land a wolf reintroduction proposal on the November 2020 ballot. Wolf supporters will need 124,632 signatures by Dec. 13 to put the restoration of gray wolves before voters.
We urge voters to decline to support the petition. Wolf reintroduction may or may not be a good Colorado. But we think that’s for the experts to decide. Other states have made that determination based on the judgment of federal and state wildlife managers. Why should Colorado be any different?
(Photo source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)