Columnists, Featured, Jon Caldara, Uncategorized, Wolf Reintroduction

Caldara: Progressives sic wolves on rural Colorado

If you live in the Boulder-Denver corridor you’ve heard it called the urban-rural divide.

If you live in rural Colorado, you know it merely as The War on Rural Colorado.

As the metro areas become more populated and more progressive, they dominate state politics. The disconnect with those living in the rural areas is becoming flagrant.

It’s like what has happened to smokers. Once upon a time most voters smoked. But smokers today are a tiny political minority, surviving only by the grace of anti-smokers who look down upon them. What do non-smokers care if smokers are taxed and regulated out of existence?

The difference here is that rural Colorado produces the energy, food and building materials upon which the increasingly progressive front range cities feast.

Governor Hickenlooper passed the most punitive and unworkable universal firearm background check mandate in the country. Massachusetts has a much more sensible one. Figure that. Colorado’s makes it near-impossible for ranch hands and farmers to share rifles at work. Urbanites wouldn’t understand that guns are simply work tools to these folk.

Polis’s strangling of the oil and gas industry, via his Senate Bill 181 and his anti-energy oil and gas commission, is stripping rural landowners of their mineral rights and income. His appointment of a rabid anti-meat, vegan activist to the state veterinary board to oversee our livestock industry is symbolic of the regulatory traps now being set for ranchers

Then there’s the wolf “re-introduction” passed by citizen’s initiative.

The term’s a fib to begin with. The wolves to be “re-introduced” aren’t the same breed as those wandering the Rockies centuries ago. But hey, salesmanship can’t be limited by the facts.

Just like Jurassic Park, a whole new breed will be released into Colorado, and just like Jurassic Park the experts say they have it all under control.

Progressives in Boulder and Denver voted to parachute killer animals into other people’s back yards. It was a wildly, but not surprisingly, intolerant act. It was a vote to injure people in a different tribe. People you don’t see. And frankly, people you look down upon as backwards rubes.

And besides, as any urban fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will attest, giant wolves are loyal, majestic and magical beasts that only kill bad guys.

The state recently confirmed the first wolf kill in decades. A wolf pack took down and eviscerated a 500-pound purebred heifer near Walden.

Walden is in Jackson County. I’m guessing most of the people who voted for the wolf initiative don’t really know where Jackson is. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that except when you vote to have people’s animals viciously ripped apart, it’s proper to at least know where and how your victims live.

This is the first of what will become an increasingly common occurrence as wolves continue to migrate down from Wyoming and are joined by those “introduced” by Colorado. Until their dogs are attacked when camping in the back country, it will be out-of-sight-out-of-mind for those who voted to make it happen

Farmers and ranchers are supposed to accept this new reality because the urbanites who sold the initiative said, “ranchers and wolves can co-exist.” True enough. But livestock and wolves cannot.

Ranchers are to be compensated for disemboweled cattle. Beef Magazine (which I was pleased to find was not a gay porn mag) reports heifers can go for up to $10,000.

But that’s likely a fraction of the real cost to a rancher cleaning up the bloody mess.

The bureaucratic hoops, paperwork, long investigations to prove it was wolves, not mountain lions or space aliens, all add costs and delays. And certain livestock has been specially bred for generations. The wrong attack will end decades of work.

Ranchers will reasonably be considering a solution when the state refuses to kill problem wolf packs. It’s called “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

Even though the penalty for killing a wolf is up to $100,000, the odds of a successful prosecution would be high. And a $100,000 penalty might be a bargain if wolves cause more than that in damage.

Of course, when the city folk hear of it, they’ll be appalled. And while the media works to educate us about the plight of the urban victim classes, they won’t be doing the same for the plight of rural Colorado.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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