Middle Park Stockgrowers Association to receive funding for non-lethal wolf deterrents, including range riders

CPW wolf and cow.jpg
Posted at 3:42 PM, Apr 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 07:52:10-04

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — The Middle Park Stockgrowers Association will have access to up to $20,000 to pay for non-lethal deterrents — such as range riders — against gray wolves, which have killed eight livestock in Grand and Jackson counties in April.

This funding stems from a partnership between the stockgrowers association and the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). All three parties are looking to get assistance into the area where these wolf depredations have happened.

Following "constructive discussions" with the community and an agreement with the stakeholders, the CDA said it is dedicating the $20,000 to the association. The deterrents can include overnight patrols and herd protections, including range riders. Range riders are people who support livestock producers by protecting herds and staying with the animals. Other non-lethal measures include carcass removal, night-penning and the use of fladry, which is a line of flags hung around where livestock gather.

Tim Ritschard, president of the Middle Park Stockgrowers Association, said ranchers in Middle Park have learned how to deal with predators for a long time, but the gray wolves — 10 of which were translocated from Oregon to Colorado in December, which voters mandated in 2020 — are a new animal on the landscape.

"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," he said.

Monthly Collared Wolf Activity Area Map_Apr2024.pdf

The first confirmed wolf attack on livestock in the wake of the December reintroduction happened on April 2 in Grand County, in which one calf died. The same sort of incident happened on April 7 in Jackson County. On April 17, three cattle were killed by wolves in Grand County, and the following day, a fourth cow was killed on the same property. On April 28, CPW confirmed wolves killed a calf at that same property as the four prior deaths. A new document tracking these wolf depredations was published by CPW on April 24.

CPW Director Jeff Davis said collaboration is key when addressing these sorts of conflicts.

"By partnering with the Middle Park Stockgrowers Association, CPW and CDA are providing immediate support while also investing in long-term solutions through education and funding for non-lethal deterrents," Davis said. "Together, we're working to protect both our ranching community and Colorado's wildlife."

Livestock producers are encouraged to submit a claim for any livestock lost to wolves. If a claim is submitted, livestock producers can be eligible for the fair market value of the livestock, in line with the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, which was approved in May 2023. According to that plan, if livestock or a guard animal is injured or killed, the wolf-livestock compensation program will pay up to $15,000 per animal. A detailed layout of the compensation options is outlined on page 33 of the management plan here. The Wolf Depredation Compensation cash fund currently has a cash fund balance of $175,000, and will receive an additional $350,000 per fiscal year, according to the CDA.

CPW wolf and cow.jpg


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The CDA is working with CPW through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2023 to prepare for any future depredations.

The $20,000 announced on Tuesday is a short-term measure, CDA recognized. The department, along with CPW, will expand Wolf Conflict Mitigation programs to further support producers who wish to implement non-lethal measures. Funding for these programs was included in the 2024 Long Bill, which passed in the legislature and was signed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday.

For the CDA, the budget appropriated $500,000 "to fund technical assistance and supplies to reduce wolf depredation and help ranchers with non-lethal control measures," according to a transmittal letter from Gov. Polis to the Colorado House of Representatives. It also included $1.3 million for the Department of Natural Resources, which includes CPW, for wildlife staffing and to "provide the resources CPW needs to manage wolf conflict and depredation claims management as wolf reintroduction work shifts from planning to implementation."

Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg said this funding will help producers during the calving season, which typically runs from March to mid-May.

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