A recent letter to the editor from Charlie Cole regarding gray wolf restoration to Colorado demonstrates the danger of making myth-based decisions. Conversely, Initiative 107 provides Coloradans an opportunity to make a science-based decision to restore a natural balance by restoring gray wolves.
By restoring a natural balance between predator and prey, wolves make elk herds and ecosystems healthier. In the Northern Rockies, after wolf restoration the land supports more elk than in 1995 when wolves were restored there. Wolves improve ungulate herd health by selectively predating the weak and diseased. Colorado’s elk and deer herds are rife with Chronic Wasting Disease. Wolves are probably the single best way to stop its spread.
To speak on behalf of wolves requires understanding wolf biology. Yes, wolves evolved as carnivores, but young wolves learn to hunt from adults. Thus, when wolf families are not persecuted by humans, they learn to hunt native prey. Data from the USDA documents that wolves seldom predate livestock. The USDA documents that there were approximately 6,000,000 cattle in the northern Rocky Mountains in 2014. The 140 cattle taken by wolves made up 0.000023% of cattle in those states.
Regarding conflicts between wolves and recreationists, we can look to facts. Documentation from Yellowstone National Park shows that from 1995 to 2018, Yellowstone hosted 101,070,722 visitors, none of whom was injured by a wolf. Among 2.7 million tent campers in Yellowstone from 1995 to 2018, no camper was injured by a wolf.
Colorado needs gray wolves – to restore a natural balance.