FILE - Gray Wolves

This Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a 4-year-old female gray wolf emerging from her cage at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.

Backers of an initiative to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado say they have turned in more than 210,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office.

If the signatures are approved, the Colorado Restore Gray Wolf Population Initiative would appear on the ballot in 2020. Colorado voters would then decide on the measure that would require the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW) to form a plan to restore gray wolf populations in the western part of the state.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, the group backing the initiative, made the announcement during a press conference Tuesday.

Rob Edward, president of the action fund, said he’s been working on gray wolf reintroduction efforts for 25 years.

“Colorado voters have made clear once again that they enthusiastically support restoring the natural balance to Colorado’s wild public lands,” he said.

The initiative is being opposed by the Stop the Wolf Coalition, which is backed by numerous farming, livestock and hunting groups. 

The group says the plan is “a disastrous idea that will impact our wildlife, livestock and Colorado’s growing population, but it’s also not fair to the wolves.”

Garfield, Montezuma and Otero Counties have also come out in opposition to the measure.  

Edward said his message to county commissions is that the action fund is willing to discuss “what it will actually mean to have wolves” in their counties.

A legislative fiscal impact statement says the initiative would cost CPW $344,000 in fiscal year 2021-22 and $467,000 in fiscal year 2022-23, if the measure passes.

Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.