Letter: Vote yes on Prop 114 to restore Colorado’s balance of nature | VailDaily.com
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Letter: Vote yes on Prop 114 to restore Colorado’s balance of nature

I remember vividly the first time I saw a wolf in the wild, it was May 2016 in the Tetons. The wolf was cautiously approaching a carcass attempting to share it with a mama grizzly and her two cubs. Seeing that majestic creature in her natural habitat was something very special.

Before colonization, two million wolves lived in the United States. Wolves were extirpated across the west in the late 1800s with the last wolf killed in Colorado in 1943. Even today they are still characterized as the “big bad wolf” in children’s nursery rhymes. What we have come to learn and biologists have confirmed is that the removal of a keystone species like the gray wolf has negative consequences for our environment. The absence of wolves for more than 75 years has upset Colorado’s natural balance, harming wildlife, habitat, and even water quality.

One of my parents’ favorite pastimes was to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday after church. We loved to see the wildlife and would have contests to see who could spot them first. I visited RMNP this past week and it’s very different now — there are fences around the aspen trees and willows. The lack of an apex predator like the wolf has resulted in elk overgrazing and the National Park Service has had to put fences up to protect the habitat.

Ecologically balanced grazing populations allow willow and aspen to grow, in turn stabilizing riverbanks which attract dam-building beavers that create habitat for fish and songbirds. John Varley, former chief of scientific research at Yellowstone National Park, said it best about the return of wolves to Yellowstone: “In all the planning, all the studies, the one thing we totally underestimated was how many other mouths the wolves would feed. Beetles, and flies and mountain bluebirds — I mean this is incredible.”

Wolves lived in Colorado for thousands of years, and we have an opportunity to regain nature’s balance. Proposition 114 would restore wolves through a science-based plan that addresses the interests of all Coloradans.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to maintain the ecological health of the land by keeping wildlife, especially keystone species like wolves, alive and thriving.

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community,” wrote Aldo Leopold, “It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

“The wolf is neither man’s competitor nor his enemy. He is a fellow creature with whom the Earth must be shared,” said L. David Mech, wolf biologist.

Please join me in voting yes on Proposition 114 to restore the health and the wild to Colorado’s natural landscapes for generations to come. Thank you!

Jacci McKenna

Eagle


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