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April 25, 2023

McCluskie, Lukens Bipartisan Wolf Mitigation Bills Pass in House Committee

Two bipartisan bills to manage and mitigate impacts of gray wolf reintroduction pass committee

DENVER, CO - The House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee 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.

“Voters approved Proposition 114 with the commitment to compensate livestock owners who lose livestock or working animals to wolves,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, sponsor of SB23-255. “This bipartisan bill will help us fulfill that promise to compensate ranchers and farmers who suffer damages from gray wolf reintroduction. I’m working hard to pass this bill because our communities are looking to state lawmakers to ensure the reintroduction of wolves succeeds in meeting the will of voters, but does not hurt our local economies or damage livestock or working animals.”

SB23-255, also sponsored by Representative Marc Catlin, passed by a vote of 12 to 1. It would ensure Colorado Parks and Wildlife has adequate resources to mitigate wolf conflict and fairly compensate livestock owners for their losses. Under the bill, the “Wolf 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 strengthens a core commitment of Proposition 114 by ensuring money is available for livestock owners to be compensated for any losses.

“Our bill is part of a bipartisan Western Slope effort to respond to the reintroduction of gray wolves and the impacts of this policy on our communities,” said Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs, sponsor of SB2-256. “This bill gives us options for how we manage the reintroduction of wolves, specifically the 10(j) rule of the Endangered Species Act, to prevent harmful outcomes for ranchers and the Western Slope way of life. I’m proud to bring this legislation to help provide solutions for our rural 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. Department 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 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 11 to 2.

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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