WOLVES ARE ON THE BALLOT IN COLORADO

Michael Ficarra and Mackenzie Murphy chat this month near a new wolf-themed mural in Denver, commissioned by organizations that support wolf reintroduction in Colorado. (Matthew Staver for The Washington Post)

Michael Ficarra and Mackenzie Murphy chat this month near a new wolf-themed mural in Denver, commissioned by organizations that support wolf reintroduction in Colorado.

By Jennifer Oldham Oct. 16, 2020

DENVER — Gray wolves howled across the land now known as Colorado for millennia before they were hunted out of existence. Now state residents are deciding whether to let the predators once again lift their voices in the southern Rockies.

If approved, a precedent-setting ballot measure would require state biologists to reintroduce the native carnivores to more than 17 million acres of rugged public lands in Colorado’s rural west by the end of 2023.

The proposal is the capstone of a 40-year campaign by conservationists to return the animals to their former range along the Rocky Mountain chain from Canada to Mexico. And it could herald a paradigm shift in wildlife management, backers say, by giving Coloradans the nation’s first vote on reintroducing an endangered species to a place it once thrived — a decision typically reserved for government scientists.

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