Federal judge defers decision on lawsuit filed against Colorado's gray wolf reintroduction

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Posted at 6:26 PM, Dec 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-17 13:19:56-05

DENVER — A federal judge deferred her decision on a lawsuit filed by Colorado's cattle industry to block the impending reintroduction of gray wolves to the state under a voter-approved initiative.

The Colorado Cattleman's Association and Gunnison County Stockgrowers Association filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife alleging proper environmental impact studies were not conducted. The groups claim the gray wolf reintroduction will create "significant costs on the [cattle] industry."

Several wildlife conservation groups filed a motion Wednesday asking Judge Regina M. Rodriguez to intervene and dismiss the cattle industry's claims.

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Rodriguez heard arguments Thursday from both sides. She said she would try to make a final decision by Friday since the state's reintroduction plan — if upheld — has a Dec. 31 deadline.

"People eradicated wolves from Colorado approximately seventy years ago," said Michael Saul, Rockies and Plains program director at Defenders of Wildlife. "And now the people have voted to bring them back."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published an environmental review in September of the 10(j) rule, which permits the killing of wolves in Colorado under certain scenarios, particularly in the defense of livestock, even though the animals are federally protected as an endangered species. The rule is a key piece of Colorado's reintroduction plan.

The cattle groups argue that 10(j) failed to capture the full consequences of wolf reintroduction, arguing it would devastate livestock and native bird species.

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Matthew Brown, Associated Press
10:45 PM, Dec 13, 2023

"I've had mountain lions on my front porch attacking my dog that makes you fear if a wolf is going to do that," said Andy Spann, president of the Gunnison Stockgrowers Association.

Gray wolves were exterminated from Colorado by the mid-1940s and are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal judge defers decision on lawsuit filed against Colorado's gray wolf reintroduction

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