A Utah Republican state lawmaker is pushing a resolution condemning its neighbor, Colorado, if voters there decide to pass a November ballot initiative to reintroduce gray wolves into the southern Rockies.
Bill sponsor Rep. Logan Wilde said Colorado shouldn’t put the public in charge of this kind of decision and worries the wolves will cross the border and enter neighboring Utah.
“This is the public going out and introducing wolves randomly. We don’t think that’s a good plan,” he said.
While the resolution appears to be just a finger wag at Colorado, it warns of potential economic impacts in Utah due to wolf reintroduction.
“We’ll end up with a lot of conflict between the state of Utah ... the property owners ... wildlife groups,” Wilde said. “It’s just problematic for us.”
Wolves were first reintroduced into the Mountain West in Yellowstone National Park and Idaho more than two decades ago. The animals’ population has since flourished and a handful recently trickled down into northwest Colorado, near Utah’s border. But Wilde’s resolution calls the Colorado initiative an “artificial reintroduction” which will increase population numbers exponentially there.
Rick Ritter, campaign spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, scoffed at the idea that the reintroduction was “artificial.”
“Wolves were here long before man, in the Rocky Mountains, so the notion that [the reintroduction] is artificial is particularly egregious,” he said.
If Coloradans do vote to reintroduce wolves there, state wildlife officials would then begin holding statewide hearings and using scientific data to implement a plan to restore and manage the animals west of the continental divide.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. Follow Nate Hegyi on Twitter @natehegyi.