Call for Leadership on Colorado Gray Wolf Reintroduction After Species Relisting

Today's win for wolves should spur additional action regionally


Perry Wheeler, Earthjustice,, (202) 792-6211

Earthjustice has called on Governor Jared Polis to increase coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal partners to ensure that all legal and administrative steps are taken with ample time to meet the state’s 2023 reintroduction deadline for gray wolves.

A federal court earlier today struck down a 2020 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that removed federal protections from gray wolves across much of the U.S., including in Colorado. Gray wolves in 44 states are now protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) once again, including the small number of wolves already in Colorado.

Proposition 114 passed in Colorado in 2020, requiring the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to reintroduce and manage gray wolves in the state by the end of 2023. The restoration of ESA protections for the gray wolf will require the agency to work closely with USFWS to ensure a successful recovery for wolves in Colorado.

“Today was a win for wolves, including the handful in Colorado that now enjoy federal protection,” said Tom Delehanty, associate attorney for Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountain office. “However, this development does not obviate the need for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop a scientifically sound reintroduction plan that puts paws on the ground next year, as voters mandated, while developing and implementing non-lethal management tools that address the legitimate concerns of West Slope ranchers and promote coexistence. The need for effective leadership from Governor Polis is now even greater than before: the Governor must work closely with federal agencies to ensure that all newly relevant legal and administrative steps are taken with ample time to meet the 2023 deadline.”

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.