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May 20, 2024

SIGNED! Bipartisan Bill to Restore Wolverines in Colorado

SB24-171 would enhance Colorado’s biodiversity

DENVER, CO – Governor Polis today signed into law bipartisan legislation to restore the North American wolverine in Colorado.

SB24-171, sponsored by Senators Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, and Perry Will, R-New Castle, and Representatives Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Tisha Mauro, D-Pueblo, authorizes Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) to reintroduce wolverines and enhance Colorado’s biodiversity. 

“Wolverines were a natural part of Colorado's landscape for centuries and it’s long past time for us to bring them back and help play our part in restoring this threatened species and improving the health of our mountain ecosystem,” Roberts said. “This is the right way to do wildlife reintroduction - backed by science, supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders through years of deliberation, proper legal protections for agriculture and business, and with bipartisan support.”

“Aiding in the restoration of wolverines in Colorado is a win-win for our state’s biodiversity and this threatened species,” said McLachlan. “This reintroduction is backed by biologists alongside a broad coalition of stakeholders and has been deliberated upon for years to effectively and safely bring wolverines back to Colorado. Our beautiful state provides the ideal mountainous habitat for wolverines, who live in solidarity and are built to withstand our cold, snowy winters.”

“Wolverines were a part of our state’s natural ecosystem for generations, and this law will responsibly and thoughtfully reintroduce them into the mountainous landscapes in Colorado they once called home,” said Mauro. “Adapted for scavenging and surviving cold, alpine temperatures, wolverines strengthen our state’s biodiversity. This reintroduction effort is years in the making with CPW leaders, including my dad, John Singletary, working to ensure the wolverine reintroduction would be science-based and what’s best for our state’s ecosystem.”

Wolverines are the largest terrestrial species of weasel in the world and live solitary lives in high alpine regions, meaning Colorado provides some of the best remaining wolverine habitat in the United States. Wolverines were listed as “threatened” in 2023 under the Endangered Species Act. 

SB24-171 also requires CPW to create rules for providing payment of fair compensation to owners of livestock for losses caused by wolverines and to create a robust public communications plan. Reintroduction will be contingent on the federal government designating wolverines as a “nonessential experimental population” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

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