Will Coloradans free wolves on the state’s public lands?

Dave Kirby

pair of gray wolves stand on a ridge looking out across an endless alpine expanse of forested valleys that fall from peaks into rivers, searching for a place to live that can provide all that they need — a place, if the experts are right, like Western Colorado. Unfortunately, such a vision is but fantasy in our state. For aside from the rare wolves who end up here by accident — disappearing almost as they appear — Colorado is without a population of wolves.

Powerful pack animals living in groups similar to families or tribes, wolves once coursed across nearly all of North America until hunted to near extinction by the mid-1900s. And although wolf populations still exist in some states, they are absent in Colorado. But that may be about to change.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project (RMWP), a coalition of conservationists, are mobilizing support to reintroduce wolves to Colorado. In the process, they’re spending time educating the public and reaching out to traditional opponents of wolves to explain the lessons learned in the Northern Rockies where wolves have made a comeback while living alongside people in rural areas. Advocates assert hunters and ranchers can coexist with wolves without substantial disruption, and they offer convincing evidence to support their claims.

“Rocky Mountain Wolf Project will give you a way to act,” said Mike Phillips to a full house at Denver’s Tattered Cover Bookstore in December 2017. Phillips is the former project leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project. The event coincided with the release of Nate Blakeslee’s book, American Wolf, and was a joint effort with RMWP and the Defenders of Wildlife to help give Coloradans a powerful voice in reintroducing wolves to their state.

Blakeslee’s book takes as its protagonist a famous Yellowstone wolf known as O-Six and is composed of intimate vignettes drawn from thousands of observational notes about the wolf’s life. In 2012, O-Six was killed by a hunter in Wyoming after wolves were taken off the Endangered Species List (ESL) in that state. O-Six was mourned internationally.

The recent book event blended literature and activism to such a degree that the crowd was howling at the event’s close, beckoning their wild brethren to return. But not everyone is howling with joy over the idea that wolves may return to Colorado.

There is a contingent of opponents to wolf reintroduction headed by the Utah-based lobbying group Big Game Forever (BGF). And at the center of the debate sits the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife (CPW).

In Colorado, BGF is led by its director, Denny Behrens, also President Trump’s Colorado Sportsmen coalition chair. BGF believes wolves deserve no federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and opposes reintroduction.

According to Michael Robinson, BGF has been a leading voice in seeking to destroy the ESA, particularly regarding wolves. Robinson works with RMWP and the Center of Biological Diversity and authored the book Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West.

“I don’t hate the wolf,” Behrens says. “It’s an awesome creature but it’s like any other predator. It has to be managed. If not, it’s going to continue doing what it’s doing, and it’s causing havoc in certain states.”

BGF was founded by Don Peay, former owner of Petroleum Environmental Management, Inc. Peay has called public ownership of lands socialism, led the Trump campaign’s Sportsmen Coalition and founded Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) in 2010. SFW is a Utah conservation group with connections to the oil and gas industry that in 2011 was paid $100,000 by the state of Utah to lobby the federal government to de-list wolves. Because SFW’s tax structure didn’t allow such lobbying, Peay founded BGF, which can apparently accommodate such political activity. Peay did not respond to requests for comment.

Robinson says BGF was the driving force behind a 2011 Congressional budget agreement rider that removed protections and de-listed wolves in Montana, Idaho, north central Utah, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington. That de-listing was the first time Congress stepped in and made a decision on an endangered species that the ESA specified was to be made by biologists within a government agency.

BGF works ostensibly on behalf of the livestock and big game industries. Between 2012-2017, its lobbying in the nation’s capital was funded by $2.1 million coming from Utah taxpayers. BGF’s political activity includes not only working to de-list wolves from the ESA, but also to prevent listing the sage grouse, a species that has gotten in the way of the oil and gas industry of late. 

Consistent with BGF, Behrens believes Trump will help BGF remove wolves from the Endangered Species list in states such as Colorado where they’re still federally protected. And he’s probably right as Trump’s campaign platform states, “Excessive predator populations, wolves and coyotes in particular, have caused once abundant big game herds to decline.”

But there is no evidence in support of this claim and plenty to disprove it. This argument is rhetorically similar to the scientifically debunked claims that have been made by CPW stating black bear and mountain lion predation is damaging mule deer populations in Colorado. As has been previously reported by Boulder Weekly in its Off Target series, loss of habitat due to oil and gas operations and residential sprawl are more likely the primary causes limiting mule deer populations as opposed to predation.

BGF also believes wolves are already establishing themselves in Colorado via naturally occurring recolonization. This is the position CPW also takes. BGF wants wolves controlled like some want public lands controlled: by the states.

Robinson says BGF’s speculation that wolves are here on their own is obviously a tactical effort to reduce the growing public interest in an actual effective means of restoring wolves to Colorado, such as RMWP’s advocating for wolf reintroduction.

Essentially if wolves are reintroduced in Colorado that would mean more wolves for BGF and the taxpayers of Utah to try to “manage” and “control.”

The above photos were captured by a trail cam in Colorado. To date, all known wolves passing through the state like this one have been shot, poisoned or or hit by cars. Courtesy colorado Parks and Wildlife

And in support of their claim that wolves are recolonizing Colorado without anyone’s help, CPW cites a recent increase in unconfirmed sightings and trail cam photos as evidence. BW obtained the photos in question via an open records request and they do appear to be of a wolf according to Doug Smith, Yellowstone Wolf Project lead. But CPW denied BW’s open records request for the location the photos were taken stating they are prohibited from doing so because release would reveal a private landowner’s identity. CPW also didn’t respond to requests for comment on this article and instead referred BW to its website.

In defense of its position not to support wolf reintroduction in Colorado, CPW has previously stated the agency can’t afford to manage wolves and that the presence of wolves in Colorado may be in conflict with the livestock industry and big game management objectives.

“I don’t doubt that CPW is cynically suggesting that wolves are recolonizing based on information that provides no reason to believe there’s any reproduction of wolves in the state of Colorado,” Robinson says. “It seems to me very deliberate to try and sway public opinion away from effective means to ensure that this important animal would return.”

While it’s a known fact wolves have run the gauntlet through Wyoming and Utah into Colorado, across that invisible borderline, all such wolves have been killed by bullets, cars or illegal poisoning. Nevertheless, BGF and CPW both assert wolves are returning to Colorado on their own and need no assistance in doing so.

But because of the evidence above, RMWP and their allies don’t believe that such rare journeys into our state will ever ensure that wolves are successfully re-established.

Wolf advocates cite the ecological phenomenon known as trophic cascade as one justification for reintroducing the predator. The idea is that as wolves return in significant numbers, they will prevent elk and deer from over-browsing riparian areas, particularly willow and aspen stands. By spreading elk and deer out across the landscape, wolves allow willow and aspen to rebound and their roots hold soil, halting erosion.

The resultant taller willows are fit for beavers to build dams, which in turn hold and purify water, thus a naturally occurring hydrological cycle is restored. And when this occurs, songbirds have been known to return in greater abundance and diversity and the ecosystem overall is aided, all because of wolves.

Delia Malone, RMWP member and Sierra Club wildlife team chair, argues wolves cause trophic cascade, saying they have a right to be in Colorado because they are part of the natural community. 

While BGF claims that wolves reduce big game hunting opportunities, evidence from Idaho contradicts these beliefs.

Greg Hill, project coordinator for the Wood River Wolf Project in Idaho, cites Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) statistics showing elk hunter harvest numbers have only gone up since wolf reintroduction in the late 1990s.

And according to a 2017 Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) news release, “Idaho big game hunters have been on a roll in recent years with a top-10, all-time deer harvest in 2016, an all-time record whitetail harvest in 2015, and a top-five, all-time elk harvest in 2015.” IDFG statistics also boast a robust population of 786 wolves in 2015. Wolves can also be hunted and trapped in Idaho. 

According to Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains program director for Defenders of Wildlife, in the Northern Rockies wolves make elk act like they always have and it benefits everybody, including hunters.

But it’s not just hunting impacts that concern critics of reintroduction. BGF’s Behrens also worries if wolves come back there will be conflicts with livestock and pets. But in many areas where wolves exist, far more livestock are killed by disease and other non-wolf causes than by wolves. Conflicts do occur, however, which is why organizations like Wood River are proactively working to prevent wolf depredation of livestock using nonlethal methods.

According to Hill, Wood River conducts workshops with ranchers and shepherds teaching proper nonlethal coexistence strategies for livestock and wolves and has a book on the subject in the works in both English and Spanish as many shepherds in the Northern and Southern Rockies are Peruvian or Basque.

Hill adds that in their project area, losses of sheep are 90 percent less than in similar areas lacking their efforts, and this success comes without one wolf being lethally removed under their watch.

Hill says between 1990-2015, sheep losses in Idaho dropped by approximately 60 percent, a gradual decline that has occurred since wolf reintroduction. Hill thinks this may be because wolves control coyote populations and since coyotes are the primary predator of sheep, the presence of wolves may actually have reduced sheep loss to predation. Hill adds this number is lower in Idaho than in Colorado where there are no wolves. And, according to USDA statistics, in 2010 total sheep loss from predation in Idaho was 43 percent lower than in Colorado.

Of note to sportsmen and others, wolves may also take a bite out of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD,) a fatal neurological disease affecting deer and elk in many parts of the country including Colorado, where it affects about half of the deer herds and one-third of the elk herds. Because they are coursing predators, honing in on the weak and sick, wolves may be able to see animals that are in the earlier stages of the disease; killing and eating them may cause the decline of CWD prevalence in the wild.

“Wolves are seeing a lot that we don’t see,” says Margaret Wild, chief wildlife veterinarian in the Biological Resources Division for the National Park Service (NPS) and chief author of a study hypothesizing wolves might limit CWD.

Wild says one of the best ways to target deer or elk infected with CWD may not be by using human eyes but with the eyes of a wolf who has evolved over eons to know the most susceptible deer or elk to prey on. “And if you can do that over time then the disease will slowly fade out,” Wild says, which may prove critical because there is no cure or vaccination for CWD.

Wild thinks wolves may already be limiting CWD prevalence in locations where they boast significant numbers, saying that by killing the first one or two infected animals in a location, the disease could be kept from establishing and becoming common enough that researchers can actually detect it. And in this respect Wild says wolves may be acting as good stewards.

Wild adds that CWD isn’t transmissible to wolves and in her opinion wolf digestion of CWD would lead to a reduction in its infectivity and the disease further dilutes when it goes into the environment.

The biologist says that when thinking about reintroduction, Colorado citizens and officials should consider that viable populations of wolves may actually decrease the prevalence of CWD.

Any wolf reintroduction effort in Colorado must be approved by citizen initiative or the state legislature, but wolf advocates believe doing so is worth the effort as re-establishing wolves in Colorado could connect the entire North American wolf population, a long desired outcome among wolf advocates who assert such a connection would have great biological and conservation value for wolves, other species and ecosystems as well.

Phillips says the work in the Northern Rocky Mountains regarding wolf recovery is complete and the Western Slope is better wolf habitat than anywhere else in the Rocky Mountains.

Hill says the wolf is a symbol of freedom synonymous with the freedom of our public lands and believes the two should go hand-in-hand. A 2013 poll found 70 percent of Coloradans favor bringing wolves back to the state so perhaps it’s not too much to say the reintroduction of wolves to Colorado is the democratic thing to do. And considering the ongoing assault on our environment, Colorado needs wolves now more than ever. 


  1. Let them be, stop trying to control everything. Deal with them on a one by one account when and if they become a problem. Don’t worry about what you think might happen, life and let live.

    • RMH47 writes that Yellowstone elk dropped from 20,000 to less than 3,000 in just a decade and you say, “life (sic) and let live.” I suggest you start looking at what the wolf is doing to cattle, eating the animals alive over several days, ripping the heads of newborn calves. Forcing children to wait for the bus in “kid cages.” Take a look. And worry. About what you think might happen. Better yet, what IS happening.

      • That’s a little over kill, I have been surrounded be wolves in the dark and they just passed by. Conflict is rare and wolves should not be judges in that way. I am an avid hunter and see wolves on a regular basis. However wolves are surplus killers and will decimate deer and elk numbers very quickly which leads to a major population collapse in turn leads to wolves moving from public lands to private lands such as ranches and towns in search of food. My first comment is what happened to Montana when wolves we’re not managed correctly due too politics. Since the opening wolf season in 2011 wolf populations have been stable and has allowed elk numbers in Yellowstone to rise 7,500 and we have not seen those numbers since 2005 a peak moment with wolf numbers.

          • Nothing in my post is for the state of Wyoming, I refer to Montana elk here’s that winter in Montana. Montana FWP does not feed elk. Also to note a change in elk herd behavior as since the mid 1990s most elk reside on private and no longer on public. Elk are smart creatures and know what’s less of a danger and stick to ranches where hunters push wolves off private lands.

      • Liberty I have only been watching wolf life in Yellowstone park. I have to admit I don’t know what people in the general public are dealing with concerning wolves. If you have cattle people who let wolves eat on their livestock over several days they are part of the problem. Seems like you have seen or heard of some pretty drastic stuff. I’ll be more open minded in the future about the pros and cons.

        • It’s good to be open-minded, but not to believe exaggerated stories. For example, as you pointed out, the story of “wolves eating an animal alive over a period of several days,” if such a thing ever happened, could only have been observed by someone who allowed it to happen or contributed to it happening. The story puts itself into question. It’s easy to believe that some parents would have built “kid cages,” but there’s reason to doubt that they were necessary. The high elk population numbers represented an elk overpopulation. Etc.

        • Most of these claiming to live with wolves believe Little Red Riding Hood was a scientific study. Yeah they will
          Sometimes take livestock but they are compensated $$$ for loss. Most predation by far is done by coyotes, which they are not compensated for. Wolves kill and keep coyote populations down. So these ranchers dont even know what’s good for them. Most of those crying wolf though are ek hunters. Elk also spread disease to cattle

          • Wolves are and will kill on sight, coyote populations plummet when wolves move into a new atea.

        • Sharon, Thank you for having an open mind. The people of Northern WI have spoken quite clearly about the abuse of the Endangered Species act by the rich welfare environmental lawyers behind the continued abuse. OVER 30 county boards in the Northern 2/3’s of the state have spoken quite clearly with resolutions against this continued abuse! Wolves have saturated the northern habitat to the point where they have dramatically affected game herds and have moved into areas where they are almost certain to cause issues. The Minnesota example of wolf management explains this phenomenon……. Follow this : These are numbers that guy like Immer posting here can not argue with…

          The dirty little secret immer don’t want you to know. Minnesota was killing OVER 200 wolves every year to keep them out of trouble. Yup, they almost hit 300 the year before the first wolf hunt. They were killing OVER 200 PER YEAR for more than half a decade BEFORE THAT 1st Hunt ALL on the taxpayers DIME almost all done by TRAPPING. YES immer TRAPPING! …. Not quite the animal that lives in harmony with people. KEEP in mind that the population of wolves in MN the year before last was only estimated at 2211 wolves and they were killing close to 300 (PER YEAR) for getting into trouble (Habituation and depredation)….once again that 300 is only the documented number…. Many were so disgusted because of re-accruing issues they shot wolves on site without approval of the DNR! The first year after the hunt they only had to kill 150 for getting into trouble. It is estimated that had the state stuck with the 1600 to 1700 wolves in the states science based wolf management plan only 50 wolves would have been needed to be killed for habituation and depredation. Because, the poorly worded Federal Endangered Species Act which allows ignorant and agenda driven judges to interpret “into the majority of their former range” to mean the majority of the state of Minnesota (which is certainly not good or even marginal habitat for wolves) the state of Minnesota.. (and Immer) are once again setting up these wolves for failure! ADDING an additional 500+- wolves (2211 s/b 1700) to the landscape in poorer habitat has resulted in an additional 250 +- (300 s/b 50) dead wolves.! LET ME REPEAT THAT: ADDING an additional 500+- wolves (2211 s/b 1700) to the landscape in poorer habitat has resulted in an additional 250 +- (300 s/b 50) dead wolves.! THESE dead wolves are the result of people like Immer……who loves to wear wolves on her sleeve! We can thank the “donate now” crowd for all this trapping and killing. Thank you sportsman for your effort at keeping wolves at reasonable and responsible numbers….SHAME on those that wear “wolf killing” on their sleeve in order to get “donate now” buttons pressed by the gullible and abuse the Endangered Species Act for easy picking of EAJA dollars setting up the wolf for more controversy and eventual failure. Support Congressman Gallagher (R), and Senator Baldwin (D) in their bipartisan effort at reforming the Endangered Species Act which is LONG overdue……. Those that know full well of this inevitability yet prey on the gullible with their “wolf killing” and “save the wolf” talk to create controversy in order to get the gullible to press “donate now” buttons need to be held accountable. The Minnesota example of wolf management where groups like HSUS and people like Immer have more wolf blood on its hands then sportsman! THOSE that have bigotry in their heart and allow RICH welfare environmental lawyers to abuse our EAJA laws and weaken the Endangered Species Act should be held accountable …. responsible environmentalist would do so.

          • reality22, thank you for sharing so much additional information. If protection of the wolves means more trapping of wolves by DNR to control the numbers then let the poor creatures who are just doing what comes natural to survive, go extinct again. I would rather that than dying of starvation and thirst in torture traps. I agree that all sites who ask for donations are gaming the good hearted wolf lovers. They ask for signatures then before letting you off the site they want your address and donations so they can hit you up again later. If it was just a signature they needed they wouldn’t ask for anything more, ever. So they are, as you say, harming the very animal they say they are trying to save. Thanks for your feedback.

          • Sharon, Your welcome! Continue with the open mind thing. Here are two examples of how the unmanaged predators have had devastating effects on the game herds of WI.

            Dr Anderson told us back in the late late 90’s that we would have a huntable herd of elk in Wisconsin BY THE YEAR 2004. THAT was before the wolf showed up. Now, the herd has trouble keeping its count above 175! WHY, because of their number one killer the gray wolves…..NOT just the number one in known mortality BUT way more when looked at it in a projected mortality manner. In an 8-day span wolves killed 3 highly pregnant collared cow elk eating very little. Those pimping wolves are stealing great natural resources from the good people of Northern WI and the UP.! The second example of their destruction is looking at harvest numbers in CO that are saturated with wolves…..like Forest Co. In Forest Co the 1995 deer harvest was 4658 vs the 2015 harvest of 1146. The standard wolf pimp party lines is that wolves will control CWD & car deer accidents…… which is a complete laugher in Forest Co! They then brag that the 2016 harvest was an increase of “30%”. A thinking person knows that you need LOT OF 30% increases to get from 1146 to above 4658. Matter of FACT it would take SIX YEARS of 30 back to back to back increases to do so! Sure, the bad winters took a toll on the deer BUT SO DID WOLVES. It is absolutely absurd to act as if the 1995 harvest in heavily hunted Forest Co of 4658 was “unhealthy” before wolves. The standard pimp wolfing counter argument is to look at the deer numbers in the state as a whole where wolves have nothing to do with car kills, CWD, over population in habitat that would set wolves up for failure if they were to expand to those areas. It has gotten so bad & information has disseminated on how the radical environmental groups are abusing the ESA via the wolf that EVEN Tammy Baldwin (D) has paid lip service to her constituency that she will address the problems.

          • I personally would rather see natural deer hunting by wolves than done by humans who can afford deer tags and guns and gear and beef steaks so I have no sympathy for the hunters in that respect. I do believe in shoot on sight for ranchers whose confined livestock are being attacked by wolves. The wolves don’t know any better but still it can not be tolerated. I am 100% against free ranging livestock so feed them yourselves at your own expense so they are not out roaming in natural parks with our wild life.

          • Again thank you for the open mind. If your looking for “natural” then having MAN as a component of these “parks” is imperative to being “natural”. MAN has been big part of the landscape in North America for at least 12000 years. Keep in mind the population estimates range from 50 to 100 million people living off the land. Killing predators was also a big part of that living. Excavation of discard pits from early Native Americans shows ratios averaging 65 prey 35 predator bones. The science based management plans from states that these groups have their liberal judges ruling against in abuse of the ESA recognize the limitations that you discuss above and keep wolves in the good and marginal habitat.

            Also, being good stewards of these “parks” is important….. saturating the transition areas between the rancher’s pastures and better habitat for things like wolves and coyotes is bad for all these places and does nothing but create controversy so these disgusting groups can abuse the ESA and EAJA with their constant barrage of wasteful litigation.

      • that was not wolves who did that it was loss of habitat and overzealous hunters. also, why would anyone leave their kids alone waiting for a bus?

        • Here ernie makes the classic wolf lover blunder. On one hand they argue wolves don’t kill elk that the decline of wolves was due to habitat and hunters.
          Later ernie will argue the need for wolves for ecological benefits.
          Wolves only chase and kill animals, they do nothing else.

        • habitat and overzealous hunters??? Really Ernie? Is your real name Johnny Vucetich ….. the radical wolf pimping biologist that boasted he could explain the collapse of the Northern herd on everything other than wolves….. he is the same radical biologist that claimed (only one of five) when reviewing Wyoming wolf management plan and said it was not adequate to manage the current healthy population of Wyoming wolves. Is that you Johnny?

  2. Wolves will make there way down from Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. However I strongly recommend putting a cap on total wolves and wolf pack or they will destroy local game populations. It’s nice to have them back in NW Montana but we are still recovering from a huge crash caused by environmental groups who routinely sued any attempts to manage wolf numbers. Yellowstone elk dropped from 20,000 too less then 3,000 in just a decade. I think as long as the states fish and game manage the population without interference by both pro and anti wolf groups, wolves will become a positive impact on the landscape without hurting both parties. Here in Montana we learned the hard way and bitterness still resides. Learn from our mistakes.

    • “After decades of debate over whether this range was overgrazed by too many elk, public concern has shifted to the herd’s small size. The winter count, which was approximately 17,000 when wolf reintroduction began in 1995, fell below 10,000 in 2003. It fluctuated between 6,000 and 7,000 as the wolf population on the park’s northern range declined from 94 in 2007 to 50 by the end of 2015. The elk count dropped to 3,915 in early 2013, the lowest since culling ended in the park in the 1960s. However, a March 2016 helicopter survey counted and classified 6,913 elk on the Northern Range, suggesting changes in population trends. Decreased numbers have been attributed to large carnivore recovery (wolves, cougars, bears), hunter harvest, and drought-related effects on pregnancy and survival. The State of Montana has reduced the permits issued for this herd so that hunting of females now has little impact on population size.”


      • Your point? You do realize that hunters get a set time and days for hunting while wolves hunt 365 days of the year. Known fact that sow grizzly bears rely on elk calf during the spring in the park and wolves can and do remove that food source the cubs essentially need.

        • With respect, as I grow weary of the constant droning of both factions of wolf debate, pro and anti. Yet, I can’t resist addressing the hunters dilemma of fixed seasons. Perhaps if those who hunt, myself included, had to hunt with our mouths, as does the wolf, and not use rifles, bows of various types, etc, we could hunt 365 days per year. Then again, the kicked in skulls and ribs that result from the type of hunting done by wolves, might temper our desire to do so. Perhaps silly, but so is your cliché. Though game is good, we can always go to the local grocery store and stock up for our daily needs, dodging the long fasting periods most wolves endure between the average next meal, and the associated risk at procuring that meal.

          • Feast or famine wolves still require food every day and around seven pounds daily in order to reproduce. As from what I have seen wolves taken at MT check stations are very healthy and annual hunting surveys indicate a healthy population. Considering the GYA elk herd was reduced by over 3/4 wolves seem to been over eating. I harvested seventy pounds of Whitetail this year and I used every ounce. If a wolf ate 7lbs x (x#wolves)x365 that’s far more then I could ever take let alone eat.

          • The seven pounds figure is in regard to successful reproduction, and is an average, as is the 2.5 pounds per day of just surviving. I’m sure if you or I were to gorge on 20+ pounds of meat we’d become meat drunk and sleep for days.

            I have about your 70 pounds of whitetail as well, some of which will be ingested tonight. But, I supplement with beef, pork, fish, potatoes, rice,etc. with nite and other stuff, I’m sure it adds up to 2.5 pounds per day.

          • True but that really has no case, what I was trying to throw out there is that management of wolves will undoubtedly happen and will have a median impact on game populations. Instead of drastic rises and crashes of both predator and prey populations. Managment and more importantly using hunting as a tool can help sustain a more balanced population flux between predators and prey.

          • That scheme works in a perfect world, and many variables skew the mean from perfect. All it takes is a severe winter, or two to throw that whole scheme out of wack. Game managers try to keep deer/elk in the sweet spot of the sigmoid growth curve for the purpose of harvest. If kept in that sweet spot, two things happen, predator populations go up, and habitat degradation increases. Throw a nasty winter into the mix, and the whole thing falls apart.

            Currently here in NE MN, we have a problem with disappearing moose. Wolves are one of the variables. Over the last 15 years, their numbers were kept on the high end of the spectrum in part because of increased deer numbers, plus deer vector in brainworm and liver flukes to moose…a whole story unto itself. Game managers decided to move to hunters choice, antlerless tags in moose zones hoping to drive down Deer numbers.
            We’ve now had 37 subzero temperature days since deer season ended, -25° again last night. Snow depth right at the borderline to add into winter severity index, and winters not even half over. If, and I understand if is a big word, we get the snows that usually come in February and March up here, it will be bad for deer. In the recent past, we’ve had two periods of consecutive tough winters 95/96 ; 96/97 and 12/13; 13/14. Then the MDHA gets their shorts in a bunch that too many deer were harvested… it takes years to get the deer population back up, and everyone wines too many wolves, even with hunting seasons. The goals are set prior to Winter, not knowing what will happen in winter. Then it’s catch-up for years, and then it happens all over again. You know as well as I do where the blame usually falls.

            I understand what you’re saying, but managing for that high yield is fraught with difficulties.

          • There will undoubtedly be difficulties when it comes to wildlife management but there is enough evidence to prove it works. I just hope when Colorado wolves get to the point where they no longer require ESA that the public actually look at past history and understand that bringing politics where it does not belong will be costly and pointles.

          • “Throw a nasty winter into the mix, and the whole thing falls apart.” FALL APART?? More of your passive aggressive bull! Bad winters have always been managed well by game managers…….shutting down doe or cow tags the following year is exactly what is in order, as should be an increase in predator tags! Your “and habitat degradation increases” is an insult to the game managers!

          • Excellent summary of the situation RMH47. Immer is a phony full time wolf pimp. Yup, Good old Immer and her cohorts can’t argue a lot of the issues their bigotry of hunting and ranching has caused. Immer’s style of passive aggressive posting (as she has done here) shows great hypocrisies of her bigoted advocacy. Some of her “up vote” on the many threads on wolf articles explain her to a tee…… PHONY!

          • Had to hunt with our mouths???
            Nothing stopping you.
            Perhaps you can explain to us how that food appears in the store?

        • RMH47 DONT be fooled by the increase of elk numbers on the Northern Range …… They admit that they are going further and further out of the park to count elk.

          Here are some of the things they won’t say about the increase and plight of the game herds affected by unmanaged wolves …….

          * Why did they change the topographical range of their Northern Elk herd study?

          * Why do they hold moose and Madison Firehole herd study information so close to their belt.?

          * What affect do the hunting of wolves in the areas where they go further and further out of the park have on the elk population.

          * What percentage of these newly found elk actually migrate back to the park?

          Immer has already used these numbers to attack others in her passive aggressive way …… she’s a phony!

  3. I can only speak of our states experience with wolves(wis). We voted on wolf numbers of around 300-350. Presently, we have upwards of 1200 wolves in approximately half the state. The Feds shut down any attempt to control them. Wolf conflicts with cat tle,sheep,horses,pets,hunting dogs and deer are problematic. Most people that love wolves in our state have no stake in the game. If you are the farmer struggling to get by or its your dog that’s killed, one wolf is too many. In big snow years the lovely wolf kill deer for pleasure when yarded up in cedar swamps. It always seems that big city people want wolves in someone else’s backyard. Then they head to the forest for their weekend jaunt and forget that ranchers have to deal with these animals 24/7. I know a little about the Grand Mesa and Collbran area. Looks like great wolf habitat to me. Also, I notice it is cattle country. Seems like conflicts waiting to happen. Recently, I read an article on the history of Grand Junction. Historically in big snow years the article said wolves slaughtered sheep by the dozens. I guess these re-introduced wolves will be-have like animals on the Disney channel. I’m just not sure what is so neat about hearing a wolf tear apart a deer while it’s bleeting and slowly dying!!

  4. The question should be why should Colorado want wolves. There is no research proving wolves will have any eco logical benefits in any state where the landscape is human managed. The wolf lovers will file lawsuit after lawsuit draining state resources.

    Most of the research from the early years in Yellowstone has since been proven BS.

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