There was more than one divisive decision on the ballot in Colorado on Tuesday, and this one also went to the wire, almost requiring a recount. Proposition 114, the forced introduction of wolves to Colorado, was passed by voters.
Supporters claim the gray wolf’s reintroduction, which was hunted out of Colorado in the 1940s, will rebalance the natural ecosystem and help control deer and elk populations.
The main opponents to their reintroduction are farmers and ranchers, who fear the wolves will prey on their cattle, and hunters, who claim the wolves will target their elk.
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Wolves were ubiquitous throughout North America until they were hunted, poisoned, and/or trapped almost to extinction in the early 20th century. They were placed on the endangered species list in the 1970s, and in the mid-1990s, were successfully re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho. From there, they have spread organically across the west, and the hope was that they would make their own way into Colorado. However, although there have been sightings in Colorado, they have not populated as well as supporters would have liked, hence the proposed forced reintroduction. The Trump administration recently removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list.
The vote is unique because it is the first time a state’s citizens have voted on the reintroduction of an animal, the decision usually being left to biologists and wildlife experts. In this case, the biologists had previously declined to reintroduce wolves to Colorado.