Grand Junction, Colo. – The gray wolf reintroduction could have Coloradans seeing wolves introduced as early as 2022. With the annual Cattlemen’s Convention and Tradeshow in Grand Junction this week, the controversial reintroduction of the wolves is a hot topic of conversation. Ranchers are voicing their concerns, saying it risks their cattle’s lives, “It’s scary when you know, you’re livelihood is walking around in the wilderness on four legs and is impacted by an apex predator,” says rancher Chase Roeber.
Proposition 114, the Gray Wolf Initiative, has been a worry of ranchers since its passage; but while ranchers are still concerned for the reintroduction, the conversation has now shifted from opposing the proposition to creating solutions for when it happens.
Colorado’s Wolf Reintroduction Organization says there are several benefits to putting wolves back into their natural habitat, “They improve their environment, they can improve the health of their prey, and they simply belong here,” says wildlife manager Gary Skiba. However, while Colorado has voted for the reintroduction, the state recognizes that it may have some livestock casualties, “The folks who wanted to bring wolves back into Colorado recognize that there would be impacts on the agricultural community and the livestock producers, and recognize that those things should be compensated when those things occur,” continues Skiba.
Ranchers are hopeful that despite their fears, the long-term benefits of the reintroduction will prevail, “I guess for me personally, there have been livestock industries that have made it work in other states. It’s not easy, you know, there’s going to be a strong adjustment period. So, all you can do is try and take your lumps and move forward,” concludes Roeber.