Letter: CPW plan must allow ranchers to protect livestock from wolves
On Thursday, April 6, our community will host Colorado Parks and Wildlife to begin finalizing the drafting process for the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan. Since the public comment session was closed, the CPW commissioners have significantly adjusted the plan, including increasing the cap for rancher compensation. While I appreciate CPW’s effort to integrate public feedback, a critical aspect must be added to the current plan: helping ranchers protect their livestock from wolves. Currently, the wildlife commission has focused on compensating ranchers for lost livestock.
CPW would greatly benefit from actively helping our local communities prepare for the return of wolves by supporting ranchers to protect their livestock from wolves. Not only would this protect livestock from being killed by wolves and avoid additional worry and complications for ranchers, but it will protect wolves from becoming habituated to preying on livestock. The issue of prevention is a topic on which most Coloradans, including livestock owners and wolf conservationists, can agree: Wolves shouldn’t be hanging out around domestic animals.
I often hear concerns that deterrents, such as flashing lights and fladry, don’t prevent wolves from returning by learning to circumvent the obstacles. However, I’ve heard many examples of ranchers successfully using these techniques before chronic wolf depredation issues develop. This observation highlights why CPW should begin equipping ranchers with the tools necessary to protect livestock from wolves before they learn to go after livestock. Issues will undoubtedly arise, but an active approach to protecting domestic animals would significantly reduce the frequency of livestock losses and allow ranchers some comfort, knowing that their livestock is protected.
I ask that CPW act in their self-interest and the interest of local communities such as ours and implement a support program for ranchers to install wolf deterrents, protecting communities, livestock and predators alike. Such an approach will increase the likelihood of our communities being able to live sustainably with wolves in the present and future. No matter how good the compensation program is, only prevention will be able to address the stress of losing animals and reduce the number of wolves habituating to preying on livestock. We need prevention in the wolf plan!
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