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Colorado Wolf Reintroduction: Triumphs and Transparency Challenges

Colorado Wolf Reintroduction: Triumphs and Transparency Challenges

Colorado's recently introduced wolves are thriving, but concerns about transparency have surfaced among state officials. The 10 wolves, released in December 2023 as part of a historic state-led reintroduction, are doing well. However, state wildlife officials have faced criticism for providing limited information about the timing and location of the releases. Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Jeff Davis apologized for the lack of transparency during a commission meeting, stating, "My apology comes from me because the area that had the most impact was the ball that I dropped."

The wolves, captured in Oregon, were released in Grand County on December 18, with the first release witnessed by about 45 people. This marked the beginning of a voter-mandated reintroduction, primarily supported by urban voters but causing concerns in ranching communities. Despite previous assurances, ranchers were not notified before the first release, leading to disappointment among stakeholders. Commissioner Duke Phillips expressed his disappointment at learning about the release through television, emphasizing the impact on invested individuals.

Acknowledging the communication lapse, Davis stated, "We are putting pieces back together," recognizing the damage to relationships with rural communities. While some commissioners commended Colorado Parks and Wildlife for handling the releases well, Davis emphasized the agency's commitment to learning from the experience and improving transparency.

All 10 wolves remain in Colorado, with no reported attacks on livestock. Colorado Parks and Wildlife plans to share more information about the wolves' general location soon. Despite the current 10-wolf limit set by Oregon, the state is seeking additional sources for wolves to meet its reintroduction plan of up to 15 wolves per year. Discussions are ongoing, although some states, including Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, have previously declined to provide wolves to Colorado.

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