Carnivore Restoration News :: Sinapu

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Why have wolves in Colo.?

Top 10 unofficial reasons for reintroduction

by Gary Wockner
Fort Collins

Denver Post

We've finally done it: The 14 members of the Colorado Wolf Working Group agreed, and on May 5, the Wildlife Commission concurred: Wolves can migrate into Colorado and roam freely.

Now that the serious work is over, it's time to have some fun.

As one of the four wildlife advocates on the working group, it is also my distinct pleasure to announce that we advocates have negotiated a deal with 20 national environmental groups to purchase the first shipment of 400 Canadian wolves that will be delivered to Colorado on June 15.

Hey, relax - it's a joke! It's actually only 40 wolves, and they've all been genetically modified to only eat grass and three-legged sheep that wouldn't survive anyway.

OK, that's another joke.

It's actually not 40 wolves, but 10 lawsuits which will strip every private landowner in Colorado of all property rights, thereby making way for wolves and the formal "rewilding" of the state.

Yes, that's just another joke, but really, everyone takes this wolf thing so seriously. The fact is that the year-long process of the Wolf Working Group was both a mixture of seriousness and humor.

The 14 of us - ranchers, biologists, county commissioners, hunters and wildlife advocates - ate together, stayed in lodges together, and drank beer together. Throughout, we got to know each other well, which provided for lots of laughs as well as mutual understanding.

It was a very worthwhile process, and now Colorado has a Migratory Wolf Management Plan. But, unfortunately (from my viewpoint), Colorado still has no wolves.

Scientific opinion is mixed on how long it will take wolf packs to migrate into and/or establish themselves in Colorado. Guesses vary from six months to 10 years. Many of us in the working group, however, would like to hasten this process by reconvening to create a Wolf Recovery Plan for Colorado.

The underlying reasons for having wolves in Colorado are the usual - "the ecological health of the land," "the health of ungulate herds," "the tourism boost," "the aesthetic beauty of wolves" and "the wildness and hope that wolves will bring to the Colorado landscape."

But there are other reasons that are a lot more fun.

So, here we go, the top 10 reasons why the Colorado Wildlife Commission should reconvene the Wolf Working Group to create a recovery plan that reintroduces wolves to Colorado.

No. 10: Elk and deer need the exercise, and wolves are cheaper than Jane Fonda workout videos.

No. 9: Because wolves are incestual and polygamous, they'll give social conservatives something else to focus on other than the gay marriage ban.

No. 8: Wolves don't just eat elk, deer, and livestock, they eat real-estate developers, too.

No. 7: Now that Hunter S. Thompson is dead, the ecological niche for wolves in Colorado is wide open.

No. 6: Boulder's biotech engineers are salivating at the opportunity to create a genetically modified sheep that grows porcupine quills rather than wool.

No. 5: With 1,000 wolves in Colorado, the radio-collar business will explode and create the state's next dot-com-like economic expansion.

No. 4: Now that Warren Zevon is dead, people in Boulder no longer have anything to howl about. (Hint: He wrote the song "Werewolves of London.")

No. 3: We can train wolves to help patrol Colorado's borders and thereby enforce Tom Tancredo's anti-immigration agenda.

No. 2: Without wolves, Colorado ranchers will have to find some other way to get their hackles up.

And, the No. 1 reason to reintroduce wolves into Colorado: George Bush thinks wolves are terrorists, and so if Colorado has wolves, the state will get a lot more funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Now seriously, the Wolf Working Group created a strange sort of camaraderie that almost no one predicted.

In my travels around the state talking with environmentalists, hunters and ranchers, I've seen a curious kind of hope come out of this - a hope that this age-old conflict could be settled without acrimony, lawsuits or cow-pie slinging.

So please order us to reconvene the Wolf Working Group and create a recovery plan for wolves in Colorado. If we can do this, it'll make next year's grizzly bear recovery program all that much easier.

Gary Wockner is a writer and ecologist in Fort Collins, and a member of Sinapu's Borad of Directors.