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Keystone Policy Center, CPW hold discussion on wolf reintroduction in Grand Junction

The event sought to engage the community on the issue
The event was held inside the Community Building at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.
The event was held inside the Community Building at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:35 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colorado Parks and Wildlife brought the Keystone Policy Center to Grand Junction Wednesday evening to discuss wolf reintroduction. Keystone has been facilitating discussions about this topic across the state since Colorado voters approved wolf reintroduction back in November of 2020.

Keystone simply sought to engage the community on the issue. The organization does not have a position on the wolf reintroduction debate. However, some at the event did express concern.

Janie VanWinkle, a Mesa County rancher, came to the event realizing that the ballot initiative had passed and wolf reintroduction is coming to Western Colorado. However, her concerns remain nonetheless.

According to VanWinkle, “The stress that the wolves place on the livestock and the wildlife is horrendous. Just knowing the wolves are out there, we’ll see things happen. And we know this because of the northern states have gone through this process. We’ll see conception rates drop 30%, and that hits our bottom line absolutely.”

She also explained her view that bringing wolves back to Western Colorado is a mistake. In terms of going forward, she thinks there are only bad options, and worries about her ranch and the wild animal populations in the area. Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis says he is focused on dealing with reality. “So obviously this is kind of tough for us here in Mesa County, we didn’t vote for wolves. And we didn’t want wolves. And most of the funding for the wolves passing last year was paid for by out-of-state organizations, environmental organizations, in California. So, we’re not happy about it, but one thing we do have to recognize it was voted in and it is state law now, so we’re here, we’re engaging in the process.”

Commissioner Davis is glad CPW is organizing these meeting across the Western Slope and listening to the public’s thoughts. Julie Shapiro, Senior Policy Director for Keystone, explained that, “We’re in a scoping phase right now. A draft plan has not been written. We’re out here early talking to folks. We want to hear what people’s questions, ideas, suggestions, and concerns are. As Keystone and also as CPW staff, we’re here to listen and capture those ideas.”

Shapiro said that input from these sessions is making its way to the advisory groups and agencies in charge of the wolf reintroduction process. Proposition 114, the ballot initiative bringing gray wolves back to Colorado, directs CPW to establish a wolf population west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023.

Keystone has been making its way across communities in Western Colorado. Next, the group will be heading over to the Front Range.

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