Travis Duncan
Public Information Supervisor
720-595-8294 / travis.duncan@state.co.us

Stakeholder Advisory Group submits final summary of recommendations for the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan at CPW Commission meeting

GATEWAY, Colo. - At the Nov. 17 Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting in Gateway, Keystone Policy Center presented the “Final Summary of Recommendations for the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan” from the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG).

Keystone highlighted the “cross-cutting themes” in the SAG’s final report:
  • Restoration of wolves with thriving ungulate populations, rural communities, and agricultural communities
  • Using science-based, adaptive and impact-based management at the local level
  • Leaving wolves wherever they are if they are not causing problems, minimizing conflict, and addressing issues on a case-by-case basis using a variety of management tools
  • Critical need for long-term funding as well as outreach and engagement 
Per the SAG’s charter, consensus recommendations from the SAG’s final report will receive priority consideration by CPW.  

In the SAG’s introduction to the final report, they wrote about their experience in consensus building:

The Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group was convened to seek consensus among wolf advocates, ranchers, hunters, outfitters, and conservationists who were tasked to explore the social, economic, and scientific aspects of wolf reintroduction and management in an effort to benefit both wildlife and people.   

This charge may have seemed impossible in a world of often polarized opinions. Over the course of 15 months of relationship-building, difficult conversations, and information gathering, the SAG ultimately reached consensus on a wide range of important issues … Throughout, the SAG fostered civil discussion and understanding across differences, often resulting in strong convergence even on the most contentious issues. 

The SAG’s final report covers such topics including: 
  • Preventative, Nonlethal Wolf-Livestock Conflict Minimization
  • Comments to the Parks and Wildlife Commission on Proposed Wolf Hazing Regulation
  • Livestock Compensation 
  • Impact-Based Management 
  • Ungulate Management 
  • Statement on Regulated Public Hunting of Wolves 
  • Education and Outreach 
  • Funding Recommendations 
From June 2021 - August 2022, SAG members met monthly (15 times) to fulfill their charter to offer “a broad range of perspectives and experience to inform the social implications of wolf restoration and management strategies for the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan.”

Similarly, the CPW-appointed Technical Working Group (TWG) has also wrapped up its own 15-month long process that culminated in a final report that will inform staff as they prepare to present the draft Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan to the CPW Commission in December. The TWG's report is available online and provides recommendations on topics such as:
  • Restoration logistics
  • Livestock compensation
  • State recovery metrics and delisting and down-listing thresholds
  • Wolf management
CPW staff will use both the TWG and the SAG recommendations to present a plan to the CPW Commission in December 2022. For meeting summaries from these advisory groups, visit wolfengagementco.org/advisory-groups.

CPW Assistant Director of Aquatic, Terrestrial, and Natural Resources Reid DeWalt thanked the advisory groups for their work during his update on CPW’s planning efforts.

DeWalt said that CPW is on track to complete the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan and restore gray wolves in Colorado by the end of 2023. Once the draft plan has been submitted to the CPW Commission in December, there will be multiple meetings scheduled dedicated to hearing public comments on the final plan. The CPW Commission will need to approve the final plan before wolves can be reintroduced. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working concurrently to develop a 10(j) designation that will provide management flexibility for wolves that are in the state.  

In addition to an update on the timeline for review and implementation of the draft Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, DeWalt also provided an update on the known pack of wolves in North Park as well as addressing an ongoing investigation into cattle deaths near Meeker.

North Park pack update
CPW received reports on October 14 that three black sub-adult female wolves had been legally harvested in Wyoming. CPW does not have a way to confirm that the wolves killed in Wyoming were part of the North Park pack. However, based on information that has been provided to us and proximity to Colorado, we believe it may have been part of the North Park pack. It is not uncommon for the North Park pack to travel into and out of Wyoming. 

CPW will continue to monitor the North Park pack to see what their status is if and when they are next seen in the area. We will be doing our usual on-the-ground surveys and talking with anyone who might see the wolves and be on the lookout for any wolf sighting reports submitted to CPW by members of the public. 

CPW biologists confirmed a minimum of two wolves in North Park on October 28, 2022. Wolves were visually seen, though lighting and distance made it impossible to confirm coloration of the animals. In addition to visual confirmation, howling was heard. It was not possible for the biologist to confirm the number of howling wolves. 

Meeker investigation update
CPW is still investigating the deaths of livestock near Meeker

CPW Northwest Region Manager Travis Black provided an update to the CPW Commission at its Nov. 18 meeting on a report of dead cattle that came to CPW from a producer in Meeker in early October. You can view Black’s update on CPW’s YouTube channel.
Initial investigations revealed three to five of the initial report of 18 dead calves had injuries consistent with wolf depredation. The deaths are believed to have occurred over an approximately two-week timespan and over a geographic area spanning a few miles. Staff efforts to locate wolves in the area have included flyovers, camera traps, howling surveys and searching for scat and tracks. Those efforts have not turned up any evidence of wolves in the area. CPW has received results from hair and scat samples that were collected during the investigation. None of the samples collected have been determined to be from wolves. 
Black said a veterinarian working with the rancher has suggested the deaths could be from clostridial myositis, also known as “blackleg.” Livestock-protection dogs could also have caused some of the depredations.
At the CPW Commission meeting, Wildlife Programs Manager at Colorado Department of Agriculture Wayne East said he would look into seeing if Colorado’s State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin could assist with determining the cause of the cattle deaths in Meeker. 

Visit CPW’s Stay Informed page and sign up for the Wolf Reintroduction eNews to stay up to date with CPW’s Wolf Restoration efforts. 
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CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 42 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.
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