Wolf reintroduction funding with no license fees is most bipartisan bill of 2021 session

Polis signs uncontroversial legislation into law from Eagle

Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs, left, watches Gov. Jared Polis sign HB21-1243 into law in Eagle on Sunday. Gibbs is joined by lawmakers Perry Will and Kerry Donovan, who sponsored the legislation to help direct funding for wolf reintroduction.
John LaConte/

EAGLE — Republican Perry Will, a state House representative from New Castle, called it his favorite bill of the 2021 legislative session in Colorado.

Democrat Kerry Donovan, a state senator from Vail, said it was an example of the Colorado Legislature working for the people.

Wolf reintroduction won’t be funded by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses in Colorado, and that was made a matter of state law from Eagle County on Sunday.

“We had no opposition on this bill down at the Capitol,” Will said on Sunday. “Wolves are controversial, but everybody came together on this bill.”

Colorado voters approved wolf reintroduction in 2020. HB21-1243 ensures that, in funding the reintroduction, the general assembly will appropriate money to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife from either the general fund; the species conservation trust fund; the Colorado nongame conservation and wildlife restoration cash fund; or the wildlife cash fund, excluding the money in the wildlife cash fund that came from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.

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The bill allows the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to solicit and accept donations to fund the wolf reintroduction program, as well.

Donovan she can’t wait to hear the howl of a wolf in Colorado, but the cost of introducing the animals to the state “shouldn’t be borne by the hook and bullet club,” she said.

‘Step down the controversy’

Gov. Jared Polis signed HB21-1243 from Bonfire Brewing in Eagle on Sunday, one of several bills the governor signed from Eagle County over the course of the last week.

“Both proponents and opponents of wolf reintroduction were able to get together and essentially fund the requirement of the voters in (the Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative of 2020),” Polis said.

Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said HB21-1243 will help get the process of implementing wolf reintroduction off the ground.

The bill will also help ensure “that we meet the intention of the voters when they supported (the Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative of 2020),” Gibbs said.

Polis described the effort as “a good way to do it” when it comes to wolf reintroduction.

“We think that we can step down the controversy a few degrees by having folks agree that the money that they pay in is not money that will be diverted for something some of them support and some of them don’t,” Polis said.

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