Legislation will help decrease conflict, compensate livestock owners for losses

DENVER, CO – The Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee today approved a pair of bills sponsored by Senator Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, and Senator Perry Will, R-New Castle, to support Western Slope ranchers and their livestock by mitigating the impacts of wolf reintroduction in Colorado.

The bills would ensure Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has adequate resources to mitigate wolf conflict and fairly compensate livestock owners for their losses.

“My constituents in central and Northwest Colorado will be directly impacted by the reintroduction of wolves into Colorado. These bills are a commitment to protecting those who will have to live daily with the impacts of wolves on the ground in Colorado by giving them the tools and resources they deserve to effectively manage those impacts,” Roberts said. “It is vital that a 10J Rule is in effect before wolves are released and that an adequate source of funding to compensate ranchers for their losses is guaranteed. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get these two vital bills to the Governor’s desk.” 

“Having a 10J allows Colorado to have management of wolves in our state in cooperation with USFWS. This management flexibility is critical to the success of the wolf reintroduction plan,” said Will. “Further, secure funding for conflict prevention and livestock depredation compensation is critical for success of the plan and non-lethal prevention techniques and compensation to producers livestock loss is a must!”

SB23-255 will create a dedicated “wolf compensation fund” within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to compensate livestock owners who suffer the loss or injury of their animals from wolf attacks. 

The bill implements a key measure of Proposition 114 by guaranteeing livestock owners be compensated for their losses.

SB23-256 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 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 15, 2023. Should any delay occur, this bill would ensure that reintroduction is paused until the 10J is in effect. 

SB23-255 will head to the Appropriations Committee for further consideration, and SB23-256 will move to the Senate floor. Track SB23-255 HERE, and SB23-256 HERE.

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

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