Final Colorado Wolf Plan approved by CPW Commission
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO, May 3, 2023 — The Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan was unanimously approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission on May 3. The final approval clears the way for CPW biologists to introduce wolves in the Western Slope area and meet the voter-approved deadline of reintroduction by December 31, 2023.
At the April Commission meeting, many of the final edits for the plan were discussed, including:
Wolf-livestock depredation compensation
- The Commission supported revising the draft plan to raise the cap on livestock compensation, as well as guard and herding animal compensation, to $15,000 per animal.
- The Commission supported revising the draft plan to exclude veterinary expenses from the compensation cap for livestock, as well as guard and herding animals, up to $15,000 or the fair market value of the livestock at issue, whichever is lower. This means claimants can get paid for injury and death to livestock and related veterinary expenses, up to a potential maximum of $30,000 per animal.
- The Commission supported revising the draft plan to require claimants pursuing an itemized claim to provide documents or self-certify the use of vaccines and pregnancy checks in lieu of producing “Records for the current year that demonstrate vaccination status.”
- The Commission supported revising the draft plan to include a two-tiered compensation ratio (1.25:1 or 1:1) for missing yearlings depending on whether the claimant uses conflict minimization practices. This means if conflict minimization practices are implemented, a livestock owner that has had a confirmed cattle depredation by wolves may claim up to 1.25 missing yearlings for each confirmed cattle depredation (a 1.25:1 ratio). If conflict minimization techniques are not implemented, a livestock owner that has had a confirmed cattle depredation by wolves may claim up to 1 missing yearling for each confirmed cattle depredation (a 1:1 ratio).
- The Commission supported the draft plan, as written, insofar as it conditions 7:1 ratio claims on the claimant’s use of conflict minimization practices. This means that if conflict minimization practices are implemented, up to 7 missing calves and sheep may be claimed for each confirmed cattle or sheep depredation (a 7:1 ratio).
Chapter 6 of the final Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan provides more detail and examples specific to compensation and conflict minimization.
Wolf reintroduction and management
- The Commission supported Chapter 3 (Reintroduction Implementation) of the draft plan, as written, provided the Technical Working Group recommendations are incorporated by reference into the plan and that wolves injured in transport, if any, will be sent to a rehabilitation facility where feasible and appropriate in lieu of euthanasia.
- The Commission supported Chapter 4 (Recovery of Wolves in Colorado) of the draft plan, as written, concerning the population thresholds for the conclusion of Phases 1 and 2.
- The Commission supported Chapter 5 (Wolf Management), as written.
- The plan will not contain a geographical distribution component as a prerequisite to gray wolves moving from Phase 1 (endangered) to Phase 2 (threatened). See § 33-1-102(44), CRS (“Threatened species” means any species or subspecies of wildlife which, as determined by the commission, is not in immediate jeopardy of extinction but is vulnerable because it exists in such small numbers or is so extremely restricted throughout all or a significant portion of its range that it may become endangered.”)
- To transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3, the plan was amended to require a count of 150 wolves for two successive years or 200 wolves at any time and will add a geographical distribution component through a finding that the species “is present in a significant portion of its range."
- The plan was amended to require Division staff to conduct a population viability analysis as a prerequisite to gray wolves moving from Phase 2 (threatened) to Phase 3 (nongame).
- Following the conclusion of the initial release, CPW staff will provide updates on the plan at least annually to the Commission on the plan’s progress, but staff can be asked to provide an update, and the Commission may revise the plan and its regulations, at any time interval if there are significant new developments. A more formal review of progress on the plan will be scheduled for five years after the initial release.
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