Hampton, Stetson appointed to wolf group

Two Moffat County residents have been appointed to a 15-person statewide wolf management working group.

Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton will represent local government and Jean Stetson will represent ranchers on the group, which will draft a wolf management plan for submission to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Hampton said he felt very good about the Moffat County appointments.

"Apparently they felt Moffat County was important enough they gave us two seats," he said.

The plan the group will create will determine Colorado's strategy to manage gray wolves when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes them from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Wolf sightings have been confirmed in Baggs, Wyo., 40 miles north of Craig, and DOW officials anticipate they will migrate to Colorado soon.

"I think it's important Moffat County has good representation because with geography, there's a good chance they (wolves) will come down here first," Stetson said.

Stetson and Hampton oppose the reintroduction of wolves in Colorado. DOW officials have said they do not support the reintroduction of wolves, but only want to create a plan to handle them once they get here.

The Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the wolves that are migrating here in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Other working group members include wildlife biologists, sportsmen, the director of the Colorado Woolgrowers Association, conservationists such as the director of Sinapu Carnivore Restoration Program, and state and federal land management agents.

The group's first meeting is June 10 in Denver.

"The first meeting will be primarily organizational in nature, focusing on the overall process agenda, procedural ground rules, issues and information needs," said Gary Skiba, multi-species coordinator for the DOW.

About one year ago, when the Moffat County commissioners learned wolves had been spotted so close to the county, they approached Russ George, who was then DOW director, and requested a seat on a wolf management group, Hampton said. George promised them one seat, but they were surprised to receive two appointments.

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