Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Agriculture are providing information on range riders and budget proposals to the state legislature to assist ranchers and livestock owners. CDA and CPW are working on a plan to get on-the-ground assistance with range riders.

CDA’s budget request to the legislature includes funding to hire range riders, who are boots-on-the-ground support to livestock producers to help protect herds from wolves. A human presence like a range rider can help detect wolves and deploy nonlethal deterrents to avoid depredation of livestock. While this request for range riders is pending at the legislature, CDA and CPW are deploying other available resources to provide immediate support and are working on a plan to deploy on-the-ground assistance through range riders in April 2024.

Additionally, CPW and CDA are working closely with the herd owner and producers in Grand County to coordinate an immediate response to the depredation incident from April 2. The state agencies, which work together through a Memorandum of Understanding, have been building the capacity to anticipate and prepare for any predator livestock incidents and are working toward deploying range riders to help with nonlethal deterrence.

A dedicated Wolf Depredation Compensation cash fund has $175,000, provided from the state’s General Fund, in its balance and will receive $350,000 additional General Funds per fiscal year to keep a healthy balance in the fund on an ongoing basis. For the current fiscal year, CPW has spending authority for up to $175,000 from this fund to compensate livestock owners for wolf depredation. CPW requested increased ongoing spending authority of up to $525,000 per year beginning FY 24-25 in the department’s budget proposal, which is currently being considered by the General Assembly as part of the Long Bill.

CDA has a $580,936 General Fund request included in the Long Bill under consideration by the state legislature in FY 2024-25 and $424,647 General Fund ongoing to provide nonlethal wolf depredation assistance, including range riding and supplies to Colorado’s farmers and ranchers through a network of three wildlife managers.

When a depredation is confirmed, livestock producers will be eligible for fair market-value compensation if a claim is submitted. CPW provides reimbursement for damages caused by gray wolves to livestock defined in C.R.S. 33-2-105.8 and animals used for guard/herding purposes and may provide conflict minimization materials under its Gray Wolf Compensation and Conflict Minimization Program. Following the recent incident in Grand County, CPW staff will continue contacting producers in the area and encouraging the use of appropriate nonlethal deterrents available through the agency.

Source: Colorado Department of Agriculture