Friday, May 12, 2023

Yes, We Voted For Introducing Grey Wolves In Colorado - So Don't Kill 'Em, Ranchers!

                              Two early arrivals (on their own) in North Park
Result of Colorado wolf vote in 2020

Back on October 12, 2020, my post on our voting choices,

YES! We Received Our Mail Ballots & Completed Them! Take That, Dotard! 

Noted the 'no brainer' options for an avowed liberal or progressive for the Colorado mail ballot.  These included:  Amendment C (No); Amendment 76 (No); Proposition EE (Yes); Proposition 113 (Yes) and Proposition 114 (Yes), 

With the following explications:

Amendment C: Requires charitable organizations to have existed for three years before obtaining a charitable gaming license instead of five years; allows charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage.

Amendment 76:  Amends the Colorado Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in federal, state, and local elections, instead of the existing language that says “every citizen” who is 18 years old can vote.

Proposition EE:  Increases taxes on tobacco, creates a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes; dedicates funds to education and health programs

Proposition 113Joins Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, awarding Colorado's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Proposition 114: Reintroduces grey wolves on public lands.

Now, granted, an out of stater - like someone from Florida- might think us mad.  But if they lived in Colorado, instead of just visiting, they'd see first hand how often we come into contact with whole deer families - even in the so-called suburbs. Indeed, on one occasion, soon after moving in to our new home in the Springs, we had to rush to close the garage door to prevent deer from getting in.  What's the problem? Simple. An exploding deer population, because of the absence of alpha predators that keep deer populations under control. And the uber alpha predator to do that is the Grey Wolf. 

Of course, on seeing the final tally for the vote - see graphic above- the rural state voters  (mainly Reepos) went ballistic. They thought those of us, mainly in the Front Range cities, had lost our minds. But not so.  We just knew Colorado had always been a home for these predators until crazed hunters and trigger happy ranchers almost drove them to extinction. And naturally, when you could then barely find a wolf anywhere, the deer population exploded.  

"Well what about deer hunters?" Yeah, what about them.  Even hundreds of hunters coming into the state can't keep the deer numbers under control. They are everywhere, and on some days you have to give whole deer families ambling up the street a wide berth.  

Incredibly, despite the passage of Prop 114 barely 3 years ago, we are still awaiting the full introduction of the grey wolves. Yes, there have been odd sightings of some wolves - like the two shown in the top graphic near North Park - but they are not part of the official process. No, this pair is actually believed to have migrated earlier from Wyoming, and more surprising, had  six pups - the first documented wolf litter in decades. 

Gov. Jared Polis welcomed the pups in Denver - where 66% of voters approved the measure - and dubbed their parents "John" and "Jane".  Not so much jubilation in Jackson County, where the pack made its base, and where 87% voted 'No'. These folks see the creatures as "enemies", not allies in controlling the ungulate population overwhelming the state.

In fact, Colorado is only now finalizing an official plan to introduce these long lost predators back into the state. The state from which the creatures were literally eradicated back in 1940.  To be clear, it's taken this long because the 2020 ballot measure, in a nod to the ranchers, deliberately postponed the reintroduction until later this year.  Even then, the state has asked the federal government to deem any released wolves as an "experimental population,” -   thereby allowing more flexibility.  The term can include "killing wolves that attack livestock".  However, Grey Wolf advocates like us worry that such moves could well set back the fledgling population - which any over zealous hunters might again eradicate.  

To be sure the wolves' reintrodiction is being carefully watched nationwide. Will our state of Colorado be hospitable to a contentious wild animal, serving as a missing link in a chain of wolf habitat from the northern Rockies to the Southwest?  Or will it veer toward the stance of  Montana  and Idaho which would allow for hyper  aggressive hunting 

We will have to wait and see, but we are cheering for the wolves. These alpha predators are desperately needed to help restore the natural balance which has now gotten out of whack. Ranchers fretting over pet kitties? Then keep 'em inside.

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