I just read a survey sponsored by a group called “Lake Research Partners” and “New Bridge Strategy” that claims: “two-thirds of Colorado’s voters favor restoring wolves in Western Colorado.” I am appalled that two-thirds of Colorado’s population is that irresponsible and emotionally ignorant of the true picture.
Allow me to take you back to the 1940s-1970s. Northwest Colorado had the largest migratory mule deer herd in the world. Rifle even claimed to be the mule deer capital of the world.
As a young man I made a part of my living by guiding deer hunters during part of those years.
Hunting was fantastic — I could guarantee a 24-inch buck every day. Then came the 1980s through today. I would not guarantee such a buck in a year. The herd disappeared. Where there were several hundred before, now there might be 10 today.
All of this is a result of bad decisions made by those in charge. In addition, other factors assisted in the demise of the herd such as having two back-to-back killing winters and a growing proliferation of predators that massacred more than half the fawns born. Throw in cars on highways and people pressure everywhere, and we lost our magnificent mule deer herd. It will never return to those astounding numbers.
In 1971, we legislated the National Wild-Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Wild horses and wild burros were made into political giants not to be managed carefully on public lands. The program let horses and burros graze freely on public lands. If the numbers increased greatly, take the excess and put them on “welfare” for life, adopt a few out but don’t destroy one.
Today we are paying out of the national treasury from $50 million to $75 million annually to support the numbers on welfare pastures. But the worst-case scenario is that the ever-growing free-range numbers on public lands are creating a dust bowl. Their numbers are increasing faster than the removal process can accommodate. Unmanaged heavy grazing creates desertification — there’s no turning back — we are destroying public lands.
I see a similarity to the loss of the deer herd, the wild horse and burro problem and the suggested introduction of the wolf to Western Colorado. Each of these catastrophes started with making the wrong decisions to begin with.
Now Colorado wants to “balance nature” in my backyard. You want to turn the wolves loose on us — to destroy what living wildlife and ranching livelihoods we have. I would say that we don’t want the wolf in Western Colorado and that the two-thirds of Colorado better wake up.
Do not force another environmental holocaust by bringing in the wolf. There is no advantage nor future with such an effort.
Gus R. Halandras