Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 15, 2023


Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Proposed Rule Allows for Widespread Killing of Reintroduced Colorado Wolves

Wolves Could Be Killed by Ranchers on Public Lands

DENVER— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed wolf management rule that would allow livestock operators and federal and state agents to kill wolves. The rule would let ranchers kill wolves even on public lands, without requiring the use of nonlethal conflict prevention measures first.

“This light-on-science proposal that lets ranchers shoot Colorado wolves before trying to prevent conflict needs to be sent back to the drawing board,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It worries me that wolves would have no safe haven even in the national forests that we all cherish.”

The proposed federal rule would delegate decision-making on the fate of individual wolves to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. It would allow for the killing of wolves on public lands, including allowing ranchers to shoot wolves on sight under some circumstances.

The rule also doesn’t require livestock owners to practice commonsense preventative measures such as removing the carcasses of dead livestock that could attract wolves or using guard dogs, flashing lights or flapping ropes and flags to scare wolves away.

“Colorado needs a completely different approach to guide wolf recovery, and it should be one that’s based in science,” said Robinson. “The Fish and Wildlife Service shouldn’t let a state agency, one that’s far too friendly with the livestock industry, allow ranchers to kill wolves without requiring the use of non-lethal deterrence. Keeping cattle, sheep and wolves safe will require apolitical thinking, which seems rarer now than the fleeting gray wolf sightings in Colorado.”

In November 2020, Colorado voters passed Proposition 114, which calls for reintroduction of wolves by the end of 2023. It also requires the development of a science-based plan to ensure the wolves “help restore a critical balance in nature.” The rule proposed today will guide management of the reintroduced wolves.

In 2022 a federal court ruled against the Service’s previous decision to remove wolves from the endangered species list throughout most of the U.S., including in Colorado.

Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed federal rule for 60 days, starting on Friday. A comment period on the Colorado draft wolf plan is simultaneously open through Feb. 22, which is the date of the final public hearing on the plan, set to take place in Brighton.

Gray wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer / FWS. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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