Editorial: Moffat County needs fair, open dialogue on wolf reintroduction
Sheli Steele, General Manager
Joshua Carney, Editor
Jennifer Holloway, community member
Tom Kleinshnitz, community member
There’s no real point at this time in continuing to belabor the decision of Colorado voters to narrowly pass Proposition 114. While just 12 of 64 counties in the state voted in favor of the proposition, Front Range counties were able to use their greater numbers to bring change to the Western Slope — whether we like it or not.
While wolves are already here in Moffat County, we as a community maintain the right to request meaningful public process when it comes to the reintroduction of new wolves to Colorado. That public process is an important part of giving voice to those that will be on the front line of this change. Unfortunately, from the sound of things, that process will be rushed and therefore fundamentally compromised.
For us as Moffat County residents, that’s simply not fair. When you look at the western slope as a whole, it is clear that northwest Colorado will be the prime target for the reintroduction. It is clear that we live where there are plenty of open lands and food resources available for wolves. The irony is that the two highest “NO” voting counties in Colorado on the initiative were Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties.
If you guessed Moffat County or Rio Blanco County — two of the highest “no” voting counties in Colorado on the initiative — you’d be spot on.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife hasn’t stated where reintroduction will occur specifically, but you can bet it will be in our county or a neighboring one.
Knowing that, we as a community deserve to have our voices heard and have some input into the process. It’s going to affect tourism, our hunting industry and our vast agriculture industry in this county.
Knowing that wolves roam in Irish Canyon will undoubtedly keep some people away from exploring the beauty out there, while the hunting and agriculture industries could be significantly impacted as the deer and elk populations suffer increased predation. Livestock will be affected as well.
Sure, the state will provide compensation for lost livestock, but will it be fair for the farmers and ranchers who spend considerable time raising a key economic resource? We think not.
As a community, we should be calling for the public process to be fair and open, allowing us to initiate dialogue with those in charge. The reintroduction should be fully vetted and not rushed by those on the Front Range. After all, we will be the ones at the forefront of the reintroduction. Hopefully those pushing the reintroduction forward will listen.
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