Colorado House approves wolf mitigation bills sponsored by McCluskie, Lukens |

Colorado House approves wolf mitigation bills sponsored by McCluskie, Lukens

Two bills that could help mitigate the effects of wolf reintroductions in Colorado passed the state House on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 with bipartisan support.
Eric Odell/Colorado Parks & Wildlife

The Colorado House passed two bills on Wednesday, May 3, intended to help mitigate the impacts of Wolf reintroduction and support Western Slope ranchers. 

The bills’ sponsors were House Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, and Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs.

“With the reintroduction of gray wolves comes property damage and loss of livestock for ranchers and farmers across the Western Slope,” McCluskie said in a news release. “When Proposition 114 was approved by the voters in 2020, the ballot measure promised compensation for farmers and ranchers who lose livestock or working animals to wolf attacks. With this legislation, we’re ensuring that rural and mountain communities will have financial support to sustain their businesses after the reintroduction of wolves.” 

Also sponsored by Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, SB23-255 passed the House 63-0. If enacted into law, the bill would give Colorado Parks and Wildlife resources to mitigate wolf conflicts and compensate the owners of livestock and working animals for their losses.

The bill would accomplish this by creating the Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund to compensate livestock owners who suffer the loss or injury of their animals from wolf predation.

Additionally, Lukens sponsored SB23-256 to ensure that prior to the reintroduction of wolves, a 10(j) rule has been granted to Colorado from the U.S. Secretary of Interior.

“The 10(j) rule gives rural Colorado flexibility with the implementation of gray wolf reintroduction, reducing potential gray wolf conflict with ranching and farming communities that rely on their livestock to pay the bills,” Lukens said in the release. “I’m proud to carry this bill through the House to provide relief for rural and mountain Coloradans and fulfill our commitment to our agricultural communities.” 

When the gray wolf was listed as an endangered species in February 2022, proper management tools for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado livestock owners were restricted. A 10(j) rule would allow the state to manage wolves in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as an “experimental population” with more flexibility than typically afforded to listed species.

The rule would permit ranchers and property owners to utilize lethal action as a method of last resort if their livestock or working animals are in immediate danger.

CPW is already in the process of requesting a 10(j) rule from the federal government with hopes of its approval by December. This bill works to ensure there are proper tools and resources available to manage gray wolves before their reintroduction. SB23-256 passed by a vote of 41-22. 

SB23-255 and SB23-256 are accompanied by HB23-1265 in a bipartisan package of bills to reduce the negative impacts of wolf interaction for farms, ranches and communities.

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