PEER and 70 Conservation Organizations, Representing 16 Million Americans, Endorse Colorado Wolf Restoration

For Immediate Release: Monday, September 21, 2020
Contact: Chandra Rosenthal crosenthal@peer.org

PEER and 70 Conservation Organizations, Representing 16 Million Americans, Endorse Colorado Wolf Restoration

Colorado — On September 9, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and over seventy conservation organizations representing 16 million Americans sent a letter (available at https://bit.ly/2Zmj3tO) to Colorado’s governor and natural resources director supporting the concept of reintroducing the gray wolf to Colorado.

“Reintroducing wolves would go far to restore the natural balance to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains for generations to come,” the letter reads. “It would also complete the return of wolves across the entire Rocky Mountain chain from Alaska to the U.S. Southwest, a wildlife restoration success of global significance.”

Proposition 114 will be on the ballot this November after over 215,000 signatures were submitted last fall by Colorado voters. A majority vote on this citizen’s initiative would require Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop a science-based plan, with public input, to reintroduce gray wolves to western Colorado and begin reintroduction by December 31, 2023. This letter demonstrates the strong state, regional, national, and global importance of the upcoming vote.

“Gray wolves inhabited the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado for thousands of years until 1945, when the last one was killed in southwestern Colorado,” the conservationists’ letter states. “Wolves evolved alongside their prey such as deer and elk. Their absence has altered both prey and landscapes. Bringing wolves back will help restore this predator-prey balance, helping keep both the prey and the landscapes they graze healthier.”

The letter acknowledges those potential upsides for Colorado: “Wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park and the northern Rockies in 1995-1996 resulted in documented benefits to the fish, wildlife, and plant communities of the region, including growth of streamside vegetation that has benefited fish, amphibians, beaver, and songbirds. Moreover, scavenging animals such as bears, eagles, and wolverines have benefitted from the leftovers of wolf kills.”

David Parsons, PEER member and a Wildlife Biologist who formerly led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, is supporting this exciting new measure because “Science confirms that wolves play a critical role in keeping their ecosystems healthy and more biologically diverse.” He continues, “Coloradans have a unique opportunity to support science-based recovery of gray wolves to significant portions of their historical range in Colorado.  My experience on the Mexican Wolf project leads me to believe that reintroduction, especially by releasing wolves with wild experience, will be very successful in restoring this important apex carnivore to the biological landscape.”  Parsons would like to see the referendum pass because “Science demonstrates that the wolves are important regulators of their ecosystems, they were historically abundant in Colorado, and ample suitable habitat exists to support their recovery. By voting to reintroduce the wolf, the state is making a commitment to the rewilding of Colorado.”

The groups joining the letter of support with PEER include Colorado groups such as the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club, Evergreen Audubon, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Rocky Mountain Wild, and the San Louis Valley Ecosystem Council, as well as national organizations including Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, and Center for Biological Diversity.

This letter of support follows the recent endorsements of Proposition #114 by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall.

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