Lauren Boebert has issued a stark warning following the reintroduction of gray wolves into Colorado’s Rocky Mountains earlier this week, with her office claiming they could “threaten livestock, herd dogs, and even hunters and hikers in the region” and saying the decision was made to “please radical environmental groups.”
The reintroduction of wolves to Colorado was narrowly approved by voters in 2020 as part of ‘Proposition 114,’ with 50.91 percent of those who cast ballots in favor and 49.09 percent. Ranchers will receive up to $15,000 for each of their animals killed by a wolf, though the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and The Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association both pushed for the release date to be delayed.
Five wolves, two females and three males, were released on Monday by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in a move welcomed by the state’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis who said the scheme is “just getting started” and the animals will “rejoin a diverse ecosystem.”
However, Boebert, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives, hit out at the program on X, formerly Twitter. The GOP firebrand wrote: “Today, Colorado becomes the first state in the country to reintroduce gray wolves, despite rural America heavily opposing this measure. This ill-advised decision puts ranchers and farmers’ livestock at risk.
“Instead of caving to radical environmental groups, we should be listening to our ranchers and farmers when they say this is bad for Colorado.”
This position was expanded upon in a statement sent to Newsweek by Boebert’s office, which specifically highlighted what they said was a threat to working dogs and even humans.
The Republican’s press secretary Anthony Fakhoury commented: “Congresswoman Boebert has spent years meeting with ranchers and farmers in Colorado to further understand the challenges they face. One of their biggest challenges is dealing with wolves that threaten their livestock and herd dogs.
“For years, ranchers and farmers have been unable to defend themselves against these wolves due to their inclusion on the endangered species list. Now, they have been reintroduced and once again threaten livestock, herd dogs, and even hunters and hikers in the region. It was a poor decision that was made to please radical environmental groups.”
Newsweek has reached out to Colorado Parks and Wildlife by telephone and online contact form to ask about the threat level to dogs and humans.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, a nationwide conservation group, gray or timber wolves used to extend across two-thirds of the present United States, but are today concentrated in areas of Alaska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming. Mexican wolves, which are a gray wolf sub-species, can also be found in Arizona and New Mexico.
On its website, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says, “Wolves rarely act aggressively toward people, but there have been instances in Alaska and Canada where wolves have attacked people,” with fatal attacks reported in Saskatchewan in 2005, and Alaska in 2010.
The department advises: “If you encounter a wolf or pack of wolves at close range do not run or turn away. If you are approached, act aggressively and maintain eye contact if the wolf is looking at you.
“Aggressively use poles, pepper spray, rocks, limbs, noisemakers or other handy items to discourage wolves. Carrying a firearm is not a bad idea, but do so only if you are qualified and comfortable with the use of your firearm, and if you are in an area that allows firearms.”
In March, two dogs were killed in separate wolf attacks in Jackson County, Colorado.
In a statement released on Monday, Governor Polis said the wolves had been reintroduced following “three years of comprehensive listening and work,” adding: “I am proud of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff for their hard work to make this happen. The shared efforts to reintroduce wolves are just getting started and wolves will rejoin a diverse ecosystem of Colorado wildlife.”
This article by James Bickerton was first published by Newsweek on 22 December 2023. Lead Image: Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert has strongly criticized the re-introduction of wolves into her state on Monday. ANNA MONEYMAKER/JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES.
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