DENVER (AP) — Just weeks before the deadline for Colorado to begin reintroducing gray wolves representatives of the cattle industry association are suing state and federal agencies in litigation that could delay the predators’ release.
The Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association and Colorado Cattlemen’s Association say in the lawsuit that U.S. Fish and Wildlife failed to adequately review the environmental effects of the plan to reintroduce up to 50 wolves over the next several years.
The predators’ release in Colorado, voted for in a 2020 ballot measure, has already stirred controversy and sharpened divides between rural and urban residents. City dwellers largely voted for the measures that would most affect rural areas, where wolves can prey on livestock that help drive local economies.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife did perform an environmental review in part on what is called the 10(j) rule, which would permit the killing of wolves in Colorado under certain scenarios even though the animals are considered an endangered species.
Still, the lawsuit claims that review doesn’t satisfy the federal environmental law and asks that a judge require U.S. Fish and Wildlife to perform another analysis.
An analysis of state and federal data by The Associated Press found that, in 2022, gray wolves attacked domesticated animals hundreds of times across 10 states in the contiguous U.S., including Colorado.
Data showed that attacks killed or injured at least 425 cattle and calves, 313 sheep and lambs, 40 dogs, 10 chickens, five horses and four goats.
There’s been no comment or reaction from Fish and Wildlife or CPW.