For Immediate Release, December 10, 2019

Contact:

Rob Edward, Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, (720) 213-6873, musefire@outlook.com
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017, michaelr@biologicaldiversity.org
Delia Malone, Sierra Club, (970) 319-9498, deliamalone@earthlink.net
Caitlin Cattelino, Defenders of Wildlife, (720) 943-0452, ccattelino@defenders.org

Colorado Wolf Initiative Gets 200,000 Signatures for 2020 Ballot Placement

DENVER— Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund today submitted more than 200,000 signatures to the Colorado secretary of state to place restoration of wolves on Colorado’s 2020 statewide ballot (read the full text of the initiative here).

“Colorado voters have made clear once again that they enthusiastically support restoring the natural balance to Colorado’s wild public lands,” said Rob Edward, president of RMWAF, the lead organization behind the initiative. “The enthusiastic response from voters all across the state to this initiative is not a surprise, since poll after poll during the past 20 years has shown that Coloradans want to bring back the wolf.”

Initiative 107 instructs Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop, after public input, a science-based plan for reintroducing wolves to western Colorado by 2023. It also directs the Colorado General Assembly to develop a means to compensate ranchers for the small number of livestock that could potentially be lost to wolves each year. If successful, this would be the first time that voters could directly cause the reintroduction of an endangered species.

“A recent poll commissioned by the RMWAF showed over two-thirds of Coloradans, including majorities in the Western Slope as well as the Front Range, support reintroduction,” Edward said. "This wolf reintroduction initiative is the groundbreaking manifestation of that public support, marrying wildlife conservation and direct democracy.”

Dr. Joanna Lambert, professor of environmental studies and evolutionary ecology at the University of Colorado, underscored the fact that Initiative 107 has national significance, given that over 70% of western Colorado belongs to the American public. “In November 2020 Colorado will show the nation what stewardship looks like,” Lambert said. “Delivering these signatures is the first step toward restoring an interconnected population of wolves that stretches from the High Arctic southward to the Mexican border. Colorado will be the last of the Rocky Mountain states to bring wolves back to their historic range. Many years of scientific inquiry and public involvement form the foundation of this initiative and direct democracy will give that science a voice.”

“Colorado needs wolves,” said Eric Washburn, a big-game hunter who lives in Steamboat Springs. “These magnificent animals will make Colorado mountain ecosystems healthier and more balanced, just like they have done in Idaho, Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Elk and wolves coexist quite well in the northern Rockies, and over the last 25 years, elk populations have grown along with the wolves. Moreover, as a hunter who harvested a CWD-infected deer in Colorado just last year, I am extremely concerned that the absence of wolves is allowing diseases like CWD to spread. When you look around the Rocky Mountains, you don’t find CWD-infected deer and elk where you find populations of wolves. We need that kind of help in Colorado now.”

The wolf reintroduction initiative is supported by a large coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.

“Volunteers, both on the Western Slope and Colorado's Front Range, have found overwhelming enthusiasm for restoring wolves to Colorado,” said Delia Malone, a Redstone resident and ecologist with the Sierra Club. “It is tremendously inspiring to be part of such a visionary wildlife restoration campaign. We’re looking forward to helping wolves restore the balance to Colorado’s public lands.”

“In the 25 years since wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rockies, they have indeed helped restore the natural balance while impacts to ranching and hunting have been minimal,” said Caitlin Cattelino, a Denver-based national outreach representative at Defenders of Wildlife. “In fact, elk populations in the Northern Rockies are as healthy as they’ve ever been in the last century. We can expect the same results here.”

“Many Colorado voters who signed these petitions understand that wolves help other species thrive,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves keep elk moving, which spares streamside plants, and they provide leftover meals for scavenging eagles, bears and wolverines. It’s time to return these amazing animals to Colorado’s wild places.”

“These 200,000 signatures represent just a small sample of the overwhelming majority of Coloradans who support bringing wolves back to our state,” said Sam Gilchrist, a Colorado resident and western campaigns director for the NRDC Action Fund.

“Whether we’re hikers or hunters, from Denver or Durango or somewhere in between, we’re united in our commitment to restoring the wildlife that makes Colorado home.”

About RMWAF: The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund (wolfactionfund.com) is a determined and growing group of Coloradans dedicated to passing a ballot measure to restore the gray wolf to the great wildlands of Colorado.

We are tremendously grateful to our partners who have helped make this phase of the campaign a success, including: the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center; Defenders of Wildlife; the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo; Center for Biological Diversity; the Sierra Club; NRDC Action Fund; Western Watersheds Project; and WildEarth Guardians. For a full list of our partners, visit: https://www.rockymountainwolfproject.org/about-us

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.