Idaho joins Wyoming and Utah in refusing to supply wolves to Colorado

July 23, 2023

DENVER, CO.— It’s a no from Idaho in response to a request from Colorado for wolves as the deadline for paws on the ground draws nearer. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game joins Wyoming and Utah in confirming they will not provide donor wolves to Colorado, according to a June 6 letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

IDFG Director Jim Fredericks said after conferring with Idaho Governor Brad Little, he said that “Idaho’s experience leads us to conclude that negative impacts of wolves sent to Colorado will not stay in Colorado.”

Fredericks cast blame on the “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failing to live up to its assurances about delisting wolves in Idaho “despite a robust population that far exceeded recovery criteria for nearly a decade before delisting.”

Fredericks said that due to litigation, the USFWS was also unable to live up to its assurances about more management flexibility under the 10(j) rule, a designation CPW has applied for. Due to this, he said Idaho was unable to address unacceptable impacts of wolf predation on some of the state’s deer and elk populations. He said, “we are justifiably concerned that the implications of ESA-litigation related to the translocation of wolves into Colorado will not be isolated to Colorado.”                                                                              

Fredericks also cited many of the same concerns that were heard during public comment before the CPW Commission. He cited the actual costs associated with monitoring, managing, and controlling wolves, part of what he calls the enormous price his state has paid to have wolves on the landscape. He said costs associated with depredation compensation and prevention, the “never-ending litigation,” and the less measurable costs of unaccounted for livestock loss and increased production costs, and the loss of elk populations and hunting activity that causes financial losses to rural economies.

“There are also the immeasurable, but very significant costs to the broader endeavor of wildlife conservation. Now more than ever, durable wildlife conservation involves people with differing values working together to achieve shared objectives. Private landowners, particularly the livestock industry and other agricultural producers, are critical to the future of conservation, even in states with large amounts of public lands. Collaborative conservation efforts are built on trusting relationships. In Idaho’s experience, the prolonged ability to delist wolves under the ESA and strong disagreements over how they should be managed have fostered mistrust and social conflict among our rural communities, hunter, trappers, other outdoor recreation users, agricultural interests, wolf advocates, conservation organizations, and governmental entities. The result is a strain on many of the very relationships that are critical to future conservation efforts.”

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said he will not provide wolves to Colorado and is opposed to Colorado’s gray wolf reintroduction.

"Our current wolf management plan is working, and it works because it is designed to manage wolves in biologically and socially suitable habitats and to keep wolves out of areas of the state where conflicts would be highest," Gordon said. "Our border with Colorado is an unsuitable area for wolves, and that would mean more human conflicts. Resolution of conflicts are almost always deadly to wolves."

Utah was also clear about their concerns about Colorado’s reintroduction plans.

In fact, Utah provided a letter as part of the public comment portion of the wolf plan process. In a letter signed by Joel Ferry, executive director of Utah Department of Natural Resources, Ferry said the state is opposed to any new wolf introduction while the species remains federally listed. Additionally, the state has long supported the delisting of the species. He clarified that the state’s management plan dictates that any wolves that enter the state’s eastern border and are in the federally listed portions of the state (all of Utah save for a small portion in the northeastern part of the state where the established Northern Rocky Mountains population is delisted) will be presumed to originate from Colorado’s reintroduction efforts and will be captured and returned. Ferry also requested that CPW notify the DNR when wolves are within 10 miles of the border.

Ferry also referred to the livestock depredation compensation plan in place in Colorado and requested that Colorado reimburse Utah livestock producers for any depredation losses. In Wyoming, the legislature made an appropriation to compensate livestock producers who experience depredation losses, expecting increased wolf activity on the southern border.

According to Anne Herbst’s reporting for 9 News, Montana, Washington, and Oregon have not been in conversations with Colorado about providing donor wolves as of May.


Source: National Pork Producers Council