Coloradans used to see their fair share of gray wolves in the Rockies, but the last confirmed packs living in the state died off in the 1940s. Since then, our only sightings have been out-of-state wolves visiting the area, but one local group intends to change that.
The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund is working to reintroduce gray wolves to Colorado, and they need to gather 124,632 signatures to get their initiative on the ballot next year. Supporters cite ecosystem imbalance as the main need for reintroduction—as deer and elk populations have grown, their grazing has stripped river banks of vegetation, making them more susceptible to erosion.
Those opposing the initiative say wolf reintroduction will pose a safety risk for a state with such enthusiastic outdoor recreation. Ranchers and woolgrowers are also concerned about the threat to their livestock, although the initiative does include state compensation for lost livestock.
If successful, the initiative will introduce 20 to 30 wolves into Colorado by 2023.