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May 4, 2023

House Approves McCluskie, Lukens Bipartisan Wolf Mitigation Bills

Bipartisan legislation helps to manage and mitigate the impacts of gray wolf reintroduction

DENVER, CO - The House today passed two bipartisan bills sponsored by Speaker Julie McCluskie and Representative Meghan Lukens to mitigate the impacts of Wolf reintroduction and support Western Slope ranchers.

“With the reintroduction of gray wolves comes property damage and loss of livestock for ranchers and farmers across the Western Slope,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, sponsor of SB23-255. “When Proposition 114 was approved by the voters in 2020, the ballot measure promised compensation for farmers and ranchers who lose livestock or working animals to wolf attacks. With this legislation, we’re ensuring that rural and mountain communities will have financial support to sustain their businesses after the reintroduction of wolves.”

SB23-255, also sponsored by Representative Marc Catlin, passed by a vote of 63 to 0. It would ensure Colorado Parks and Wildlife has adequate resources to mitigate wolf conflict and fairly compensate the owners of livestock and working animals for their losses. Under the bill, the “Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund” would be created within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to compensate livestock owners who suffer the loss or injury of their animals from wolf predation. 

The bill follows through on a core commitment of Proposition 114 by ensuring money is available for livestock owners to be compensated for any losses.

“The 10(j) rule gives rural Colorado flexibility with the implementation of gray wolf reintroduction, reducing potential gray wolf conflict with ranching and farming communities that rely on their livestock to pay the bills,” said Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs, sponsor of SB2-256. “I’m proud to carry this bill through the House to provide relief for rural and mountain Coloradans and fulfill our commitment to our agricultural communities.”

SB23-256 is a bipartisan bill, also sponsored by Representative Matt Soper, that would ensure that prior to the reintroduction of wolves, a 10J Rule has been granted to Colorado from the U.S. Secretary of Interior.

When the gray wolf was listed as an endangered species in February 2022, proper management tools for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and Colorado livestock owners were restricted. A 10J Rule would allow the state to manage wolves in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as an “experimental population” with more flexibility than typically afforded to listed species. It would permit ranchers and property owners to utilize lethal action as a method of last resort if their livestock or working animals are in immediate danger. 

CPW is already in the process of requesting a 10J Rule from the federal government with hopes of its approval by December 2023. This bill works to ensure there are proper tools and resources available to manage gray wolves before their reintroduction. SB23-256 passed by a vote of 41-22.

SB23-255 and SB23-256 are accompanied by HB23-1265 in a bipartisan package of bills to reduce the negative impacts of wolf interaction for farms, ranches, and communities. 

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