PROMO 64J1 Animal - Gray Wolf - USFWS

Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter backs wolf initiative

Gray Wolf. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, Monday announced his support for a ballot measure to reintroduce gray wolves in the state.

Voters will decide on the Colorado Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative in November. If approved, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission would be obligated to establish a plan for gray wolf population reintroduction and management.

“Colorado’s economy depends both on agriculture and on maintaining healthy and robust mountain ecosystems where people come from all over the country to watch wildlife, hunt, and fish, and recreate,” Ritter, who’s now the director of Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy, said in a statement. “Wolves can help restore the natural balance of western Colorado’s vast public lands and improve the health, diversity and resilience of our mountain ecosystems to climate change.”   

“I have great faith in the voters of Colorado to make the right choice for our state in November and hope all Coloradans will join me in voting to return wolves to Colorado’s high country to restore the natural balance,” Ritter added. “It is an investment in a healthier, more biodiverse and resilient future for Colorado.”

Under the measure, the state would also be required to compensate livestock owners if gray wolves are responsible for livestock deaths.

If passed CPW would spend an estimated $344,000 in fiscal year 2021-22 and over $467,000 in fiscal year 2022-23, according to a fiscal impact statement for the measure. 

The ballot measure is backed primarily by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund and opposed by the Stop the Wolf Coalition, which is made up of farming, livestock and hunting groups. 

The coalition cites potential damage to livestock and wildlife, diseases, and overcrowding in the state as reason it opposes the measure. 

The measure has also been formally opposed by numerous rural counties across the state.

The reintroduction initiative has also been backed by former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who said the state’s “wildlife and landscapes will be a better off with wolves in place.”