To the Editor:
A major campaign to restore gray wolves to Colorado is presently underway; it’s called Initiative 107, Colorado Restore Gray Wolf Population Initiative (2020). The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund (RMWAF) spearheads the initiative which will now appear as a ballot measure for Coloradans to vote on in November 2020.
Last month the organization delivered more than 200,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State calling for the restoration of gray wolves (Canus lupus) to be put on the 2020 statewide ballot. On Jan. 6, Initiative 107 was approved by the Secretary Of State’s Office after Elections Division officials determined the number of valid signatures was greater than the total number required.
If the measure passes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is instructed to take public input and then develop a plan for reintroducing wolves to western Colorado by December 2023. This would be the first time in history that voters have brought about the reintroduction of an endangered species.
Initiative 107 has national significance, too. Over 17 million acres (70%) of western Colorado is public land. This vast area of prime wolf habitat is the keystone that could connect the entire North American wolf population from the High Arctic southward into Mexico.
As apex predators, wolves are essential to maintaining healthy and balanced ecosystems. By restoring them to Colorado, wolves could potentially mitigate Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a deadly neurological illness similar to Mad Cow Disease, which as of July 2018 has infected at least 31 of Colorado’s 54 deer herds (57%), 16 of 43 elk herds (37%), and two of nine moose herds (22%). The incidence of CWD is growing quickly in Colorado and beyond. CWD has now spread to 24 states, including Texas, and two Canadian provinces.