The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation strongly encourages the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission to follow the proven and sustainable North American Model of Wildlife Management in the management of wolves. A scientifically managed harvest season for wolves has proven sustainable in the Northern Rocky Mountain region, as well as in the Great Lakes States when hunter-harvest was allowed.
“RMEF appreciates the plan’s acknowledgement that elk and other ungulates are socially, ecologically and economically important to Colorado in general and CPW in particular. Maintaining robust ungulate populations to support these existing priorities and the additional predation by wolves will require increased monitoring by CPW,” testified Susanne Roller, RMEF senior conservation program manager.
Among other points, RMEF emphasizes that introducing wolves will likely have an impact on the currently declining elk calf/cow ratios in the southern half of the state. If wolf predation leads to elk and deer populations falling below objective, active wolf management must be a viable response.
RMEF also supports establishing the five breeding pair/50 wolf count for four years and 15 breeding pair/150 wolf count for two years as per federally mandated recovery plans in other states. RMEF also calls on the commission to resist efforts by others to increase these thresholds.
Lastly, lethal removal to address depredation conflict must be a part of the plan as a management possibility.
Go to the 35:10 mark of this link to view the entire recent testimony given by Roller. See RMEF’s official public comment letter below.
The final scheduled public hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Adams County Fairgrounds (Waymire Dome – 9755 Henderson Road in Brighton, approximately 20 miles northeast of Denver.
Go here to view the agenda. A broadcast is only available once the meeting begins.
The comment period closes on February 22. RMEF urges its members and all other hunters and interested parties to go to its issues and advocacy page to learn more about the issue, submit a public comment and sign on to RMEF’s petition before the deadline that will be submitted with its official public comment. Thus far, hundreds have done so.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a long, rich conservation history in Colorado. Dating back to 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 843 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in the state with a combined value of more than $201.8 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 501,957 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 119,587 acres.
(Photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
Denver, CO 80216
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan.
The mission of RMEF mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. We represent more than 225,000 members nationwide and over 14,500 members in Colorado. Since its inception in 1984, RMEF has permanently conserved or enhanced more than 8.6 million acres of North America’s most vital habitat for elk and other wildlife, including over 500,000 acres in Colorado. As such, RMEF has a vested interest in ensuring the sustained productivity of elk and other wildlife in Colorado.
RMEF, like 49% of Colorado voters, did not support the ballot measure that mandated reintroduction of gray wolves in Colorado. After its adoption in 2020, RMEF and our members have participated in the public stakeholder process to the extent that we were allowed, and the professionalism of the biologists within what has been a largely political process is commendable. The narrow margin by which the measure passed indicates that radical and non-traditional approaches to managing wolves do not have widespread support. RMEF encourages the commission to follow the proven and sustainable North American Model of Wildlife Management in the management of wolves.
It is RMEF’s contention that gray wolves are recovered in the lower 48 and should be fully delisted, but federal courts disagreed in 2022 when they were listed everywhere except in the Northern Rocky Mountains. RMEF submitted extensive comments to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in August of 2022 regarding CPW’s application for the establishment of a nonessential experimental population of gray wolves in the state of Colorado under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. If the state can receive federal approval, a 10(j) nonessential designation will provide Colorado the greatest flexibility.
- RMEF appreciates the plan’s acknowledgement that elk and other ungulates are socially, ecologically and economically important to Colorado in general and CPW in particular. Maintaining robust ungulate populations to support these existing priorities and the additional predation by wolves will require increased monitoring by CPW.
- Declining elk calf/cow ratios in the southern half of the state is an existing problem that is likely to be exacerbated by the introduction of wolves.
- Active forest management, particularly in National Forests, is important to improved habitat for ungulates and therefore important to gray wolves.
- If wolf predation leads to deer and elk populations falling below objective, then active wolf population management must remain a viable response, particularly in Phase 3. Reducing big game hunter quotas should not be the only response to declining elk and deer populations.
- RMEF supports the proposed 4-Phase approach for establishing the status of wolf management. The 5 breeding pair/ 50 wolf count for 4 years; 15 breeding pair/150 wolf count for 2 years is consistent with other federally mandated recovery plans. The commission should resist efforts to raise these thresholds.
- Lethal removal to address depredation conflict must be included as a management option.
- RMEF would prefer the plan outline how successfully meeting the phase 3 threshold would result in wolves being reclassified as a game species. A scientifically managed harvest season for wolves has proven sustainable in the Northern Rocky Mountain region, as well as in the Great Lakes States when hunter-harvest was allowed prior to judicially mandated ESA closures. RMEF supports the reference to a phase 4 where game status is a possibility.
RMEF appreciates the opportunity to review and comment on the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan.
Blake L. Henning
Chief Conservation Officer