Gray wolves could finally return to the United States as Colorado is all set to vote on whether to reintroduce them into the wild after an 80-year absence. Gray wolves were at near extinction in North America after the United States government systematically exterminated the wild animal in the 19th and 20th century to protect its cattle industry. Gray wolves were attacking cattle, which in return was affecting the booming cattle industry that catapulted the West's economy.
According to media reports, gray wolves were almost completely gone by the year 1940 but their inclusion in the 1973 Endangered Species Act, along with a 1995 effort to build a home for them in the Yellowstone National Park, saw their number rise to 5,500. Now Colorado will let its voters decide whether a home should be built for them in the state. Media reports suggest that despite staunch opposition from the hunting and the ranching community in the state, the measure is likely to pass.
Colorado will vote amid the latest threat by the Trump administration to remove gray wolves from the list of endangered animals. Conservationists argue that the decline in gray wolves' population affected Colorado's ecology as deer and elk can now openly graze without fearing for the wild animal. According to experts, deer and elk have been grazing extensively on the rocky mountains of Colorado as they now have nothing to fear.
Pro-measure voters argue that there are safeguards for ranchers who might suffer losses due to the reintroduction of wolves as they will be compensated if a wolf kills their livestock. But President of 153-year-old Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Terry Fankhauser has a different argument as he feels that pregnancy, gestation and weight gain among the livestock will decline if the reintroduction takes place. According to media reports, the cattle industry of Colorado is a whopping $2.8 billion industry.