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Ranchers push for change after Colorado Parks and Wildlife says it won’t kill wolf related to depredations

By Spencer Wilson

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    COLORADO (WCCO) — The North Park Stockgrowers Association has penned a letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife after receiving a letter from the organization explaining the reasoning behind not taking lethal measures against a wolf proven to have killed livestock.

Mark Hackleman, president of the North Park Stockgrowers Association, says it’s getting out of hand and something needs to change.

“We’ve had two depredations in the month of April in North Park. The guys in Middle Park are taking most of the abuse,” Hackleman said. “Quite frankly, CPW should be taking care of the problem.”

CPW believes the wolf in question is mating since collar locations show that a female wolf is staying near it as well, so it doesn’t want to cull a wolf that it believes could be adding to the wolf population in Colorado. Hackleman said he had concerns about that exact situation.

“It’s hard to think that a dog wouldn’t teach their young the same behavior,” Hackleman mused. “That’s an unfortunate situation, I mean, we understand the CPW is tasked by law to regenerate a population of wolves here.”

Part of the group’s request goes into future reintroductions, focusing on the sourcing and speed of putting out new wolves.

“We just hope that they can take a step back and take their time,” Hackleman said.

All through his interview with your CBS News Colorado reporter in the mountains Spencer Wilson, Hackleman made it clear he points the blame of the situation ranchers like him are in squarely at voters, not CPW. He believes no matter what the agency does, someone will be upset.

“I feel like CPW staff is in the worst possible situation in this whole scenario,” Hackleman said. “They can’t win.”

You can check out the full list of livestock depredations by wolves here, as well as the money paid out to ranchers.

In the meantime, funding for additional wolf protection efforts has been announced for both range riders and other non-lethal options from CPW and the Colorado Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Middle Park Stockgrowers Association.

“CPW and CDA have worked with the community in Grand County to understand what kind of support they need and will find useful,” said Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg in a statement provided by the department. “This funding will help Grand County producers during calving season, an especially vulnerable time for beef producers. Meanwhile, funding was just approved in the state budget for CDA’s new program to help ranchers in areas with wolves and other predators implement non-lethal conflict reduction methods that are successful in other states. We will do this hand-in-glove with our partners at CPW.”

Middle Park Stockgrowers Association President Tim Ritschard is also quoted in the release, thanking the organization.

“Middle Park ranchers have long dealt with predators, but this is a new situation for our community,” he said. “We’re thankful for the partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Colorado Parks and Wildlife which will let us bring in additional help to protect our animals.”

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