With this post I'm simply trying to encourage everyone that cares about this issue to do something. If each of us would just take a few minutes to do something (write a letter to your newspaper, write your county commissioners, and most importantly, email your uninformed friends and family on the front range) we actually DO have the ability to defeat this. After you do something, send an email to a handful of your hunting friends and family and ask them to do the same. If we all do our part, wolves are not an inevitability. The following is an email I sent to my Gunnison County Commissioners this AM. It will also be used as a template for a letter to the editor of the Gunnison Country Times shortly.
Shortly, you are going to be asked to take a position on what is likely, by far, the most important issue that will come before you during your term on the Gunnison County Commission...the forced introduction of wolves into Colorado's western slope. I want to add my name to the legions of Gunnison County residents that are urging, no...imploring, you to draft and sign a resolution adamantly opposing the forced introduction of wolves. Where to even start with the reasons why?
I don't need to tell you that Colorado's wildlife is managed (incredibly well I might add) by hunters. Hunting (and its affiliated activities) adds an astronomical amount of money to Gunnison County coffers, and funds Colorado Parks and Wildlife as well. Wolves will severely negatively impact deer, elk, and moose numbers in the Gunnison Valley. Please talk to residents where wolves have already established themselves in the western U.S. and listen to their experiences. Elk are already struggling mightily in the basin without wolves. How are wolves going to help them? Think of what progress we've made to our moose numbers in the last several years, and they'd be the first to suffer at the fangs of wolves. As herds decrease, hunting license numbers will inevitably be cut drastically, and hunter numbers will dwindle to a trickle. Local businesses will pay the price. Make no mistake, there will be several businesses that will not survive. On top of that, ethical hunters make every attempt to harvest big game animals as humanely as possible, and feed their families with the meat legally acquired. Wolves rip, tear, and shred...and it's every bit as gruesome, painful, and horrific a death as you or I could imagine. Surely we can all agree Gunnison County's ungulates deserve better than this?
Also remember, although currently the wildlife commission is not allowed to voice their opinion once an issue becomes a ballot initiative, the wildlife commission (and thus Colorado Parks and Wildlife itself) is on record (CPW Resolution 16-01) in vehement OPPOSITION to the forced introduction of wolves into Colorado. This is precisely why the pro-wolf folks had to do an end-around and get this issue on the ballot where CPW would be legally silenced and instead, the uninformed hordes of front range humanity will be able to dictate to the western slope as to how we will manage our own wildlife. Besides being egregiously unfair, this "ballot box biology" is an incredibly ignorant way to manage wildlife. Do any of you want to be told by a front ranger how to live your life? Nor do I. No matter what your thoughts on this matter, can't we all agree that we western slope residents should be able to decide for ourselves how to manage our wildlife, instead of being force-fed wolves by folks that don't even live here?
And what benefit will the citizens of Gunnison County gain by being force-fed wolves...a warm fuzzy or a tingle up the leg on the off chance you happen to hear a wolf cry in the distance. Despite what you'll hear from the pro-wolf folks, there is NO upside to wolves. No increase in wildlife watching as folks file into the Gunnison basin to gawk at the additional songbirds or beavers we'd supposedly gain. No "improvement" to streamside vegetation, because there will be no deer, elk, or moose to over browse streambanks. I've walked hundreds of miles of streambank as an avid fly fisher and have never seen any damage to browse, except from cattle. No "wolf tourism," as your chance to actually see a wolf will be slightly higher than your chance to lay eyes on Sasquatch. What we will gain from wolves instead is a HUGE loss of revenue for the Gunnison Basin, a MASSIVE decrease in funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a loss of our western slope hunting heritage, an eternal headache for ranchers (the backbone of the Gunnison Valley), the potential for dangerous wolf encounters with people and pets, and a dramatic decrease in tourism (including wildlife watchers, who mainly come to view big game) coming to the Gunnison Country.
Although this is undoubtedly the most important decision you'll be asked to make during your tenure on the commission, it should be the easiest decision as well. Please draft a resolution stating that the Gunnison County Commissioners are adamantly opposed to wolf introduction. Thank you for your consideration. Doug Dillingham Ohio City, Colorado
Are there any people I could send this to as a nonresident?