Portrait of a grey wolf in the forest.

County requests to provide input in state wolf plans

Commissioners pen letter requesting cooperating agency status in reintroduction

June 8, 2022

The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners has formally requested to be a cooperating agency with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in an environmental impact statement (EIS) covering gray wolf reintroduction in Colorado under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The county cited its direct experience working as a cooperating agency with both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service in a letter to the USFWS supporting its recommendation.

“The county has the authority to adopt and enforce ordinances and resolutions regarding health, safety, and welfare issues and the authority to adopt a master plan that takes into consideration the location of endangered or threatened species,” the county’s letter reads. “We have special expertise regarding the social and economic impacts of wolves within our jurisdiction.”

Gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states. In 2020, Colorado voters narrowly passed Proposition 114, 51 to 49 percent, paving the way for reintroduction on the Western Slope no later than the end of 2023. Voters opposed the measure in Garfield County, 63 to 37 percent; most counties west of the Continental Divide (more than 80 percent) were opposed to wolf reintroduction. In 2004, Garfield County was a representative on a state committee that wrote the recommendations for managing wolves that migrated into Colorado.

“We are requesting an invitation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be a cooperative agency regarding the gray wolf reintroduction and management,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “As county commissioners, we think it’s very important to have as much input as possible into the reintroduction efforts. As we have stated many times, this is a bad idea and shouldn’t move forward. I think it was hastily put together and it’s a disaster for our county, as well as western Colorado and the entire state.”

The request letter was approved by the BOCC unanimously, 2-0.

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