By Elliott Wenzler, Summit Daily News
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will begin the process of bringing wolves to the state from Oregon on Sunday, with a possible initial release date of the animals Monday, state officials told a federal judge Thursday.
The logistics around the release are not yet finalized and depend on several factors, including the weather and how the wolves are transported to the state, an attorney representing the state said.
“It would be almost impossible to describe the level of logistics that have led to this moment to comply with voters’ requirements and the governor’s strong preference that we meet this deadline,” said Lisa Reynolds with the state attorney general’s office.
Her statements came at the end of a nearly three-hour hearing Thursday over whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has followed the correct process in planning for the wolves’ reintroduction. Several groups opposed to the reintroduction, including the Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ and the Colorado Cattlemen’s associations, filed a lawsuit Monday asking a judge to delay the reintroduction.
The lawsuit claims that the Fish and Wildlife service should have conducted environmental impact statement reviews beyond what has already been completed. Thursday, lawyers for the state called the filing an “11th-hour” attempt to delay a process that has been underway for years. Under Proposition 114, which was approved in 2020 by a narrow margin of 57,000 votes, wolves are required to be reintroduced in the state before the end of this year.
Judge Regina Rodriguez asked about the timing of the planned release to determine how quickly she would need to make a ruling over the lawsuit’s request for a delay. The state informed the judge that once the animals are captured, keeping them in cages for long periods for court delays is stressful and “very bad for the wolves” because their tranquilizers will have worn off.
Upon learning of the state’s plans, she said she would try to have her decision out by Friday.
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Type of Story: News
Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.