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Wolves may be reintroduced to RMNP!

Posted by on Sep. 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM
  • 8 Replies
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Do you think this is a good idea or bad?

Debate on bringing wolves to Colo goes to US court

DENVER - An argument over whether wolves should be returned to Rocky Mountain National Park to reduce an overabundance of elk is moving to a federal appeals court.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado will hear the case Thursday.

The park often has so many elk that they overgraze on trees, shrubs and grass, leaving other animals without enough food and habitat. Few natural predators are left there, and hunting is prohibited in all national parks, so little remains to keep the elk population in check.

The park uses National Park Service personnel and trained volunteers to periodically shoot and kill a specified number of elk. Officials rejected the idea of reintroducing wolves to prey on the elk and control their numbers, saying it was infeasible.

They cited a lack of support from other agencies, safety concerns of people who live nearby, expected conflicts between wolves and humans and the amount of attention that a wolf population would require of park officials.

The wildlife advocacy group WildEarth Guardians sued the Park Service in 2008, asking a Denver federal court judge to overturn the policy. The group said the Park Service didn't fully consider reintroducing wolves, and that using volunteers to kill elk amounts to hunting in the park, which would violate federal law.

The judge disagreed, upholding the policy in 2011, and WildEarth Guardians appealed to the 10th Circuit.

Rocky Mountain National Park launched a 20-year program in 2008 to thin the elk herd by shooting a number that varies from year to year, depending on the size of the park's overall herd. The program also includes fencing elk out of some areas to protect vegetation and redistributing some of the animals.

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said 131 elk have been killed in the culling program during the winters starting in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The current size of the elk herd in the park's lower elevations is 600 to 800, which is within the target range set by the program, so no elk were killed last year. The park website says weather, hunting outside the park and changes in elk movement patterns have helped keep the numbers low.

No decision has been made on whether or how many elk will be killed in the upcoming winter.

Wolves disappeared from many parts of the West after decades of hunting and government-backed extermination. They were re-introduced in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in 1995, and some advocates have argued for bringing them back elsewhere.

Wolves ignite heated and emotional debates in the West, with some people saying the predators are a threat to human safety and ranchers' livelihoods, and others arguing they are a vital part of natural ecosystems and inspiring to see in the wild.

By contrast, the arguments in the lawsuit before the 10th Circuit are largely about dry-sounding procedural questions, chiefly whether the Park Service followed the letter of the law in rejecting wolf reintroduction and whether using trained volunteers to shoot excess elk is "culling" or "hunting."

The 10th Circuit normally meets in Denver but will hear oral arguments in this case at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder as part of an outreach program.

by on Sep. 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM
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by Member on Sep. 20, 2012 at 2:13 PM
I would not want the wolves. They can be a huge danger to humans and livestock. Wolves are very smart animals. Instead of killing off the elk, they should be moving them where other elk herds are small. What do they do with them after they kill them off? Hopefully not going to waste. They'd feed a lot families that really need the food. I am by no means against hunting. My family does it. I myself won't, but my family does and it doesn't bother me. I just don't have the heart to do it. Though if it is the only thing I have to feed my family then of course id do it. But not for a sport or hobby. Unless it is a praire dog or coyote. Lol I am farm/ranch raised and have seen many animals fall and break legs in praire dog holes and seen many livestock, not just cows, get killed by coyotes.
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by on Sep. 20, 2012 at 2:15 PM

If they have enough to hunt I don't believe their encounters with humans would be that tough..... but they should be prepared to remove them IF they became a safety hazard. 

by Kathleen on Sep. 20, 2012 at 2:26 PM

I would think we should go with the wildlife officials stance on this since they are the ones who are closest to the issue so since they feel it isn't a good idea I would have to agree. 

by on Sep. 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM
Maybe they should make it easier for us to hunt elk if there are too many!!!
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by Anji on Sep. 20, 2012 at 4:53 PM
I am not sure where I stand on this. Yes we should balance the elk but wolves wander and rmnp might be smaller than what they need. I think it would be bad but I am all for reintroducing wolves to the wild.
I still think rmnp should let people hung when the elk herd gets as big as they have been. The hunters that truely hunt for food not for the award.
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by Sarah on Sep. 22, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Hmmm.....not sure how I feel about this. 

by Danielle on Sep. 24, 2012 at 4:31 PM

I don't know. I don't have enough information.

by on Sep. 25, 2012 at 8:22 AM

I think that any time we mess with mother nature, we get a mess that has to be fixed.  Wolves helped to keep elk populations in check for centuries.  Then we thought it would be a good idea to get rid of the wolves.  Now the elk (and dear) population is out of control.  Bring back the wolves, let mother nature balance herself again

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