Huff, puff and reintroduce wolves?
By M.P. Cremer
Recently, the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan was brought to light to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission in hopes to reintroduce wolves into the state for the first time in 80 years. Here are my thoughts.
I moved to Billings, Mont., from northeast Texas, in June 2019 to work for the Western Ag Reporter. My first writing assignment was on gray wolves and their status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Before writing the story, my knowledge of wolves was limited to Little Red Riding Hood and the critically acclaimed Twilight Saga. As I read up on the ESA, watched YouTube videos and pillaged through press releases, I stumbled upon a podcast from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) called Cattlemen’s Call.
This specific podcast featured input from a handful of people on gray wolves and how detrimental they were to ranches.
One interview which stuck out to me was with a rancher from Minnesota. He told stories of wolves killing a large amount of his cowherd. He even mentioned, half the time the wolves wouldn’t eat their prey, they’d just maim them enough to kill them and leave them for dead, like it was a sport.
The rancher went on to say he wished there was something he could do on his own. He told a story of calling the Fish and Game Department to send an agent out to trap and extract the alpha wolf from his pack and the rancher’s property. Something which took a lot longer than anticipated to get done, but between you, me and the fence post, I think it could have been solved a lot easier with some gunpowder and lead, but I digress.
This issue was something I’d never even thought about.
Wolves are not an issue where I come from. It would be like folks born and raised in the high country, thinking about wild hogs destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
Wolf depredation was something I knew of, but it wasn’t really on my radar. I started researching this story and realized gray wolves were the enemy. Although I wasn’t directly affected by them, it was something I knew needed to be stopped.
At the end of the Cattlemen’s Call podcast, they offered a phone number listeners could text to show support of NCBA and their fight to get gray wolves off the ESA list.
I texted NCBA’s number, then I texted about 15 members of my family.
I said something like, “Gray wolves are like wild hogs, except they kill cattle in cold blood for the heck of it. Ranchers are hurting, please text [the number] and show your support to make sure they are no longer protected under the ESA.”
Every single person I sent the message to texted NCBA’s call-to-action number in support of cattlemen everywhere. Why? Because we know how detrimental pests and predators can be to an agricultural operation.
Now, the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan includes aspects to compensate producers for losing livestock due to wolves.
This all sounds well and good, but how will it play out? Do you, a livestock producer, really want your livestock killed by a wolf in the first place, only to be told you have to “prove” it happened before getting a check, let alone wait on a government payment?
To be frank, I think the compensation aspect of the plan is just a bone thrown to livestock producers by animal activist groups in hopes they can get it approved without ruffling too many feathers. A bone, I might add, that probably doesn’t sit well with too many of our cattlemen and women in the great state of Colorado and in the West. A bone, I believe, is all smoke and mirrors.
So, livestock producers of the North, when it comes to reintroducing predators who have cautionary childhood tales written about them and eat the hind-end of pregnant mama cows for their appetizers, what do you think about this?