By MIKE McKIBBIN
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A group charged with the development of a gray wolf management plan differed on whether the wolf should be accepted in Colorado and how it should be monitored.
Colorado is part of the gray wolf’s native range, but the wolves were eradicated from the state by the mid-1930s. Over the past decade, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reintroduced wolves in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona.
This summer, a gray wolf was killed by a motor vehicle on Interstate 70, after it had migrated from a herd in Yellowstone National Park.
The Division of Wildlife set up a group that includes members of the livestock, environmental and sportsmen communities as well as wildlife biologists, local government officials, federal and state government agencies.
The group met this week at Sunlight Mountain Resort outside Glenwood Springs, and the opinions varied on several issues related to the wolf management plan.
“We had given up on the idea of every wolf that comes across the border should be assassinated,” said sportsmen representative Michael Bond of Littleton. “That’s a concession that we will have wolves in this state.”
“I don’t want any wolves beyond the state lines,” said livestock producer representative Bonnie Kline of Delta.
“If we don’t determine what level of wolf presence to accept in this state, it will be a hard sell to get the public to accept this plan,” said sportsmen representative Dick Steele of Delta.
Whether hunters should help pay for management of the wolves also was debated.
“It will be harder to sell this to those who are opposed to wolves if hunters have to pay for it,” Bond said. “I don’t want the costs borne by hunters or the livestock industry.”
Gary Skiba with the DOW assured livestock representatives if any wolves kill cattle or sheep, those animals will be removed.
Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton suggested a Web site be set up to allow the public to track the movement of wolf packs.
That idea was strongly opposed by Rob Edward of Boulder, a member of Sinapu, a group that favors the return of wolves.
“If you tell people where these packs are, I’m very concerned that will open them up to poisoning,” he said. “You should only tell those who could be directly affected, like ranchers in calving season, on a case-by-case basis.”
Hampton said that was unsatisfactory.
“We need a plan that’s as public-friendly as it can be,” he said. “We should use all the monitoring tools we can because monitoring is the absolute key to preventing predation.”
The group is scheduled to complete a draft management plan when they meet in Grand Junction next month.
The draft then will be open for public comment for 60 days. A series of public meetings will be held across the state to gather more input, said facilitator Connie Lewis.
“We have to plan to manage the wolves when they get here, it’s not a reintroduction issue,” she said.