Colo. Governor Vetoes Wolf Bill, Applauds SCOTUS decision on Prop 12

May 17, 2023

DENVER, CO., — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has vetoed SB23-256, a major blow to livestock producers in the state as the deadline imposed by the governor to introduce wolves into the state is looming large.

In a letter to the bill’s primary sponsors, Polis called the bill “unnecessary” and said it “undermines the voters’ intent and the hard work of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, the expertise of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, the extensive stakeholding undertaken, and the ongoing collaborative work with Federal partners.”

Primary sponsor and West Slope legislator Sen. Dylan Roberts said it was disappointing to see a bill that passed the legislature with such large bipartisan margins, 29-6 in the Senate and 44-21 in the House, not become law.

Roberts said his constituents in Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Summit Counties were initially angry that Prop 114 passed, approving wolf reintroduction to the area. Every county in Colorado’s Senate District 8, save for Summit, which includes the towns of Breckenridge, Dillon, Keystone, and Silverthorne, voted no on reintroduction by a significant margin.

In a statement, Roberts said, “As a legislator, I have rarely witnessed as broad grassroots support from a variety of communities and groups as we did with SB23-256. The constituents that I, my co-sponsors, and the Governor represent deserve leadership that hears and responds to their legitimate concerns. That is why this bill had the co-sponsorship of every legislator from Western Colorado, where the wolves will soon be introduced. I am grateful that Colorado Parks and Wildlife is aggressively pursuing a 10(j) rule and stand ready to help secure that as soon as possible. While I sincerely hope that the 10(j) rule is issued to Colorado before wolves are reintroduced, I fear for the consequences my community may face if this does not happen.”

Rep. Matt Soper, also a Western Slope legislator and sponsor of the bill, said the sponsors made a final plea to the Governor Tuesday morning to sign the bill, likening it to securing car insurance before driving a vehicle.

Polis said The Parks and Wildlife Commission has already invested significant resources into this process and Colorado is on track to secure the 10j before the end of the year. The management of the reintroduction of gray wolves into Colorado is best left to the Parks and Wildlife Commission as the voters explicitly mandated.

Both Roberts and Soper said their constituents are likely to be angry with the governor’s decision, though he said he doubts many will be surprised. Colorado Farm Bureau said “the governor's disregard for those living in western Colorado and his direct rebuke of the legislature's will is not how we protect ranchers and their livestock nor is it how to ensure successful wolf reintroduction.”

Sen. Roberts expressed his frustration that the end of the year deadline Gov. Polis has referred to is a self-imposed deadline. The ballot language requires the reintroduction process begin by the end of 2023, which he said includes the planning process, not strictly paws on the ground.

The veto occurred just hours after Polis released a statement applauding the Supreme Court decision that California’s Prop 12 did not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause, allowing California to set its own regulations regarding pork production required to sell in the state. He said the suit was a threat to Colorado’s ability to protect animal welfare, reflect values, and allow states to enact future climate policy at the state level.


Source: National Pork Producers Council