Gov. Polis won’t delay wolf re-introduction, swiftly vetoes bill he says might |

Gov. Polis won’t delay wolf re-introduction, swiftly vetoes bill he says might

Elliott Wenzler and Jesse Paul
The Colorado Sun
A map of the proposed reintroduction area. The darker green areas are determined to have more ecological suitability for reintroduced wolves.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy image

Wolf re-introduction in Colorado is set to continue as planned after Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday vetoed a bipartisan bill that could have delayed the process in an effort to ensure ranchers will be allowed to kill the animals if they attack their livestock.

Senate Bill 256 would have prevented the wolves’ re-introduction on the Western Slope until the federal government designated gray wolves as a “nonessential experimental population.” The designation would give ranchers more flexibility to lethally manage wolves, as opposed to only when they are threatening to human life.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service must complete what’s known as a 10(j) analysis to determine whether to give the wolves the designation. The state expects the designation to be granted before wolves are supposed to be introduced in December.

In a letter explaining the veto, Polis wrote that the bill was “unnecessary and undermines the voters’ intent” and said it could actually interfere with wolves being named as an experimental population.

“If signed into law, this bill impedes the coordination that has been underway for over two years by the US. Fish and Wildlife Service, (Colorado) Department of Natural Resources, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife that includes a $1 million commitment from the state of Colorado to complete the 10(j) draft rule and draft environmental impacts statement,” the letter said. “The management of the re-introduction of gray wolves into Colorado is best left to the Parks and Wildlife Commission, as the voters explicitly mandated.” 

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