Wolves are on the ballot in Colorado
At OPS, we are honoring our roots and working to restore the ecological balance to Colorado’s wild spaces. We join over 70 conservation organizations supporting efforts to restore wolves to Colorado, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and with the endorsement of the Global Indigenous Council.
Wolves are functionally extinct in over 90% of their historic natural range. Most wolf populations were exterminated from North America by the mid-1940s through misdirected federal and state predator control programs.
The last wolf in Colorado was shot in 1945. That means the native voices of the wolf have been removed from delicate mountain ecosystems that rely on apex carnivores for their balance and resilience, and Indigenous communities have lost an important cultural and spiritual symbol.
On November 3rd, the people of Colorado will have a chance to vote on Proposition 114—the measure that would bring wolves back to Colorado by 2023. This historic measure is on Colorado’s ballot.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 114 would direct the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop and implement a plan to restore gray wolves to the 17 million acres of public land on Colorado’s Western Slope. If the measure passes, it will be the first time voters will have decided the course for the reintroduction of an endangered species.
When it comes to gray wolves, Colorado is the missing piece that will transform the state into an important continental migratory corridor, potentially linking wolf populations from Mexico to Canada.
Recent opinion polls have shown overwhelming support for wolf restoration, across party lines and across urban and rural landscapes.
Science and data from wolf restoration to the Northern Rockies have shown the benefits of a sustainable wolf population for ecosystems and biodiversity. After grey wolves were returned to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995, the ecosystem was transformed .
Now, more than ever, the gray wolf needs our help. As the current Administration is poised to delist the gray wolf from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), help us restore the voice that has been missing for over 70 years.
Indigenous voices and the wolf
Whose voices were heard upon the land first? Wolves are important members of the ecological community, and play a significant role in indigenous spirituality.
The wolf has sacred and significant cultural meaning to many Indigenous communities and peoples. Because of this, the Global Indigenous Council has endorsed the initiative to restore wolves to Colorado.
Representing First Nations and Indigenous peoples worldwide, the Council’s endorsement is consistent with its Wolf Treaty, signed by tribal elders and recognizing the significance of the wolf to a multitude of Indigenous cultures.
With the passage of Proposition 114, the Council’s support for this initiative will ensure that Indigenous voices have a seat at the table as management plans for wolf restoration are developed and implemented.
The first voices on this land were those of the wolf, and of native peoples. It is time that Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) be carried forward into contemporary wildlife management and authorities embrace and welcome the wisdom inherent in Indigenous lifeways and spirituality. The oppression of the wolf has mirrored the oppression of native peoples.
Protecting and restoring the iconic call of the wolf is our duty to not only the populations of wolves that continue to be persecuted to this day, but to the ecosystems that depend upon them.
Removing protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act ensures that these much-maligned creatures will continue to struggle for their rightful place in the natural world. As we confront the 6th Mass Extinction, we must work to defend every living component to maintain nature’s complex and delicate balance.
What you can do!
If you live in Colorado, vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 114. Ballots are in motion now. By voting to reintroduce the wolf, the state is making a commitment to the rewilding of Colorado.
Make your voices heard. Sign the petition in support of restoring wolves to western Colorado, and stand for coexistence with one of nature’s most powerful symbols.
Learn more about wolves: Colorado State University has conducted extensive research and published information about wolves.
For kids! Learn more about wolves through Project Hero’s interactive Rocky Mountain Wolf Quest.