CPW Commission approves planning process for wolves reintroduction

On January 14, 2021 at its meeting, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) draft plan for a process and timeline framework for reintroducing wolves to Colorado, in accordance with voter-passed Proposition 114.   Approximately 250 viewers tuned into this portion of the virtual meeting via youtube. You can find the plan at CPW website under the January Commission meeting. A professional facilitator(s) will be engaged to help manage this process.  One of the big questions is funding for the process.  the cost estimates very widely and funds have not been requested from the general assembly and its joint budget committee for this session. Proposition 114 requires that wolves be reintroduced by December 31, 2023. The Governor presented a challenge to CPW that it reintroduce wolves beginning a year earlier, in 2022.

CWF made public comment at the meeting. Here are the comments CWF made through our board chair:

First, CWF finds it odd and unsettling that the stakeholder advisory group members that will be selected are charged with representing themselves rather than their organizations. We do not see a meaningful role for organization that have been valued stakeholders in other working groups assembled to make recommendations on complex CPW policy matters. Also, the first category listed is “stakeholders representing advocacy groups.” This category is at odds with the direction that members are confined to representing themselves.

Second, an estimated costs baseline requires early attention. We heard already yesterday morning that there is no supplemental request [for the wolves reintroduction process] for this 2021 legislative session. Where will the funds  be found or allocated for 2021 process work [that is already underway]? We agree that funding should be addressed in a way that brings Coloradans together. If wildlife cash funds are relied upon for a significant amount of the funding, this will be divisive approach. We have some funding ideas and will submit a separate letter.But generating external sources will require time and are not available immediately.

Third, as the First Assistant Attorney General advised earlier this morning, the meaning is unclear in the Prop. 114 2(e)(II) clause concerning wildlife cash funds. This is the subsection that provides for fair compensation to livestock owners for losses caused by  gray wolves “to the extent they are available” from the wildlife cash fund.  An opinion is needed as soon as possible.