Livestock groups sue agencies to stop wolf reintroduction

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association have recently filed a lawsuit against Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delay the reintroduction of gray wolves into Colorado. This comes as a result of the state’s Gray Wolf Introduction Initiative, narrowly approved by voters in 2020, which mandates the release of gray wolves into Colorado by December 31. The lawsuit alleges that the agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not conducting an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement on the consequences of reintroducing gray wolves to Colorado.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, representing 6,000 members, has long opposed the ballot measure to reintroduce gray wolves, citing concerns for humans, domestic pets, livestock, and wildlife. Under the state’s reintroduction plan, up to 10 wolves will be brought to Colorado from Oregon and released in Summit, Eagle, or Grand counties by the end of the year, with an additional 50 wolves planned to be brought in over the next five years.

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the federal and state wildlife agencies violated the law by renewing an Endangered Species Act agreement without preparing an environmental impact statement on the reintroduction of gray wolves, and a court order to delay reintroduction until it is complete. The lawsuit also emphasizes the groups’ dissatisfaction with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, stating that their concerns were not sufficiently addressed during the reintroduction plan’s development.

The reintroduction of gray wolves into Colorado has been a contentious issue with a long history. Gray wolves were extirpated from the state by the mid-1940s due to predator eradication efforts. In 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf as an endangered species in the Northern Rocky Mountains, allowing them to be reintroduced to the region. The recent lawsuit reflects ongoing tensions surrounding wolf reintroduction and its potential impact on Colorado’s ecosystems and agricultural industry.

As the situation continues to unfold, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have yet to comment on the lawsuit. This is a developing story that will be updated as new information becomes available. For more Colorado news, sign up for the daily Your Morning Dozen email newsletter.

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