cowgal, I have lived in NE Minnesota for about 5 years now, and grew up east of the Twin Cities in rural Wisconsin. I have seen some "city folk" try to impose their ideas on the people in the north country and think that it will always be a problem. I agree with MN Hunter in that it is just accepted, for the most part, that there are wolves around- and quite a few at that!
Colorado is divided as well. The eastern slope of Colorado is dominated by cities and the largest population numbers, so consequently they are heard more. The western slope is still mostly ranching and farming with small towns. The western slope population often feels that the "city folk" don't understand or care about our issues. But they have no problem recreating over here.
There are issues with pets and livestock. Most people who live here keep a close eye on their pets and don't let them run wild, but they realize that if they lose control and their dog runs away, it might never come back. It's about learning to take precautions, and personal responsibility. We have gotten too used to having no fear/respect in the wild. Although in reality I don't think about wolves much when I am in the woods. I see sign all the time, but they have a natural fear here, which is not the case where they have been reintroduced. Around here, even with them being protected, there are plenty that get killed by folks. It keeps 'em honest.
Do you have multiple predators to deal with? Or only the wolves? Part of my concern is that we already have lion, bear & coyote to deal with. Its funny when a lion or bear wanders into the Denver area its big news, especially if a pet is involved. But I never see coverage of the damage predators do to livestock, and its not a rare occurence. Daily some rancher is dealing with having his animals being torn to pieces. Its not a pretty sight. And anyone that believes a wild animal only kills what it eats is mistaken. I believe predators make sport of tearing up a flock of sheep.
Though there really isn't much ranching around here anymore, there are still some around and they do have livestock losses. But again, if they could protect their property instead of having to call wildlife services and have them set traps(which rarely work), there would probably be less problems. And let me just say, there are plenty of folks who feel the only good wolf is a dead wolf, but they tend to be the old-timers. Luckily, the next generation is a bit more level-headed.
Ranching is still the largest industry on the western slope of Colorado. Most ranchers would just as soon not have to deal with more problems.
My biggest worry is that people won't be able to protect their property after wolves are delisted, since the "greens" feel any killing of a wolf is bad, and that killing problem wolves will reduce the population. Unfortunatly, if we have problems with getting sane laws here, where we have had wolves for awhile, I feel for you folks that are just starting out.
We first need to have some control over the wolf situation here in Colorado. Right now they're still protected by the feds. Colorado has not introduced any wolves, what we're going to be dealing with are wolves that have migrated into our state from re-introductions in other states. We've had multiple sightings in the northwest corner of Colorado. In fact just a couple days ago we heard of 2 wolves sighted between Craig & Steamboat Springs. I haven't heard or read anything official about that yet. I guess when another one gets run over on the highway, then we'll know. :-?
Thanks for your input stillhunter.