Colorado’s ambitious wolf reintroduction program has hit a major roadblock as Idaho, a key contributor to the initiative, has refused to send gray wolves to aid in the conservation efforts. The decision by Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game (I.D.F.G.) has raised concerns about the feasibility of meeting the December 31, 2023 deadline for the wolf release.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (C.P.W.) had hoped to gather wolves from various Rocky Mountain States, including Montana and Idaho, but with the recent setback, they are left to explore alternative options to ensure the success of the program.
In a letter addressed to C.P.W.’s director, Jeff Davis, I.D.F.G.’s director, Jim Fredericks, expressed Idaho’s commitment to maintaining cooperative working relationships. However, the state firmly declined to send gray wolves to Colorado.
Fredericks cited Idaho’s experience with wolf populations, which had to be managed and controlled extensively after their delisting from the Endangered Species Act.
He warned that the negative impacts of introducing wolves to Colorado might not be contained within its borders, raising concerns about potential conflicts and challenges related to wolf management and compensation for livestock depredation.
The Challenge of Wolf Reintroduction in Colorado
Idaho’s decision to withhold wolves from Colorado is rooted in the significant costs and efforts the state has incurred in managing its own wolf population. From extensive monitoring and management to dealing with the financial burden of depredation, compensation, and prevention measures, Idaho has paid an enormous price to coexist with wolves.
This experience has led Idaho authorities to exercise caution in exporting their wolf population to neighboring states, including Colorado.Outreach to Other States: In addition to Idaho, C.P.W. had sent formal requests to other Rocky Mountain States, such as Washington, Oregon, and Montana, seeking their support in supplying wolves for the reintroduction program.
While Idaho has declined to participate, Washington’s Wildlife Subcommittee and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with the Fish and Wildlife Commission, are still discussing the possibility of providing wolves to Colorado.
Despite this glimmer of hope, C.P.W. is not anticipating the need to request wolves from states outside the Northern Rockies, highlighting the importance of finding a viable solution within the region.:
Despite the setback caused by Idaho’s refusal, officials at C.P.W. remain optimistic that a suitable resolution will be reached in time for the scheduled wolf release by December 31, 2023.
The agency is actively exploring alternative avenues to secure wolf populations from within the Northern Rockies states. This setback has ignited a sense of urgency to ensure the successful reintroduction of wolves in Colorado, co