Portrait of a grey wolf in the forest.

Garfield County named participating agency on wolf reintroduction

County is contributing information, comments, and technical expertise to the FWS

August 24, 2022

Garfield County has been named as a participating agency in the state of Colorado’s wolf reintroduction plans for the northwest part of the state. According to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Garfield County and the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Colorado Ecological Services field office (FWS), the county will be offering input into proposed rule development and the environmental impact statement (EIS) process.

The county is contributing information, comments, and technical expertise to the FWS as part of the EIS process and is providing strategic guidance on “public involvement strategies, and identifying data needs, suggesting management actions to resolve planning issues, identifying effects of alternatives, suggesting mitigation measures, and providing written comments on working drafts of the EIS and supporting documents” from within the county’s jurisdiction, according to the MOU.

“I will reiterate my very staunch opposition to this,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “I think it is foolish for the State of Colorado to introduce wolves. They will naturally migrate here on their own from other states. This will be a terrible detriment to livestock producers, as well as the wildlife of this state.”

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.

Samson is the county’s representative in the process and the first cooperating agency meeting takes place on Aug. 31. The MOU was accepted unanimously, 3-0.