For millennia, gray wolves have roamed the high mountains of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. But since the early 20th century, they have been considered extinct in the state. But that’s no longer the case. This week, the Colorado Division of Wildlife announced the discovery of two of the animals near the small town of Red Feather Lakes, about two hours outside of Denver.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife released a video from the agency’s Management Assessment Program, which provides data on human-wildlife conflicts in parks. In the video, Colorado Parks and Wildlife researcher John Kokelj, who narrates the video, said that a gray wolf was responsible for the first documented pups of the year in Colorado. The wolf is believed to have entered the area from the northern Rocky Mountains. He said that it was the first gray wolf pups since the 1940s, when wolves were hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states.
The first pups, dubbed “Echo and Yellowstone,” were spotted in the mountains above Colorado’s wilderness area of Routt National Forest on Monday. The pups are the offspring of a female wolf, known as “Echo,” that was tracked last year by a volunteer tracking network that monitors the animals in the region. The pups appeared healthy, and were about one-month-old.. Read more about gray wolves and let us know what you think.Male gray wolf in Colorado. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
DENVER – Colorado has its first litter of gray wolf pups since the 1940s, state conservation officials announced Wednesday.
A state biologist and a county wildlife manager discovered over the weekend a litter of at least three wolves along with their parents, two adult wolves in the state, said Gov. Jared Polis in a news release. Most wolf nests have four to six cubs, so there may be more.
The revelation comes after Colorado voters narrowly approved a measure last year that would require the state to reintroduce the animal into public areas in the western part of the state by the end of 2023.
Earlier this year, gray wolves lost their federally protected endangered status. However, they remain protected at the state level, and it is illegal to hunt them in Colorado. Penalties for violations include fines, jail time, and loss of the right to a hunting license.
These pups will have many potential companions when they grow up and start their own families, Polis said in a statement.
In the 1940s, gray wolves were hunted, trapped and poisoned in Colorado in an attempt to eradicate them.
Last year, authorities confirmed the presence of a small wolf pack in northwestern Colorado after a series of sightings since 2019. The animals are believed to be from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Opponents of the reintroduction initiative say the presence of wolves in Colorado shows that reintroducing the animals is unnecessary, as they will eventually repopulate the state naturally. Ranchers, elk hunters, farmers and others in rural areas say wolf reintroduction is bad policy with an urban majority along Colorado’s Front Range and threatens livestock and the multi-billion dollar hunting industry.
Animal rights advocates see the Colorado reintroduction as an important step in accelerating the wolf’s recovery in a habitat that stretches from Canada to the Mexican border. Wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in the 1990s and there are now about 3,000 roaming in parts of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Northern California.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Wolves are native to Colorado?
Wolves are native to North America.
Which Wolf is the rarest?
The rarest wolf is the Mexican Wolf.
What are gray wolf babies called?
Gray wolf babies are called pups.
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