CPW: Reintroduced wolf linked to depredation incidents is likely breeding, will not be removed

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Posted at 9:51 PM, Apr 24, 2024

DENVER — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said it will not remove a male wolf linked to recent depredation incidents after discovering it's likely breeding.

The state revealed that a male and female wolf are likely "denning" in a letter to the Middle Park Stockgrowers Board. The letter was in response to a request made by the board, ranchers and several law enforcement groups asking for the removal of reintroduced wolves through "lethal force."

In its response, CPW wrote that killing the male wolf "would be irresponsible management."

"It's way too early in this program to be killing wolves," said Michael Saul with the Defenders of Wildlife. “There are still so many non-lethal solutions available to try.”

CPW is still working to confirm the den.

"It shows that the plan is working," said Saul. "Colorado-born pups, I hope that's something we can all get excited about.”

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The male wolf is believed to be responsible for several depredation incidents. In total, six animals have been killed by wolves since their reintroduction in December 2023.

The first depredation incident was on April 2 in Grand County, The second incident happened five days later in Jackson County. Three yearling cattle were killed by wolves in Grand County on April 17. The next day, a fourth yearling cattle was killed on the same property.

In line with the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, the livestock producer is eligible for fair market value compensation if they submit a claim, CPW said. That plan describes the legal requirement to provide fair compensation to livestock owners for any economic losses if their animals are injured or killed by wolves. If livestock or a guard animal is injured or killed, the wolf-livestock compensation program will pay for 100% of fair market value compensation, up to $15,000 per animal. A detailed layout of the compensation options is outlined on page 33 of the management plan here.

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However, data shows no claims have been submitted since the reintroduction in December. The Middle Park Stockgrowers Board said the state needs to re-work the reimbursement process.

"I've talked a little bit with one of the producers about the reimbursement process, and it needs to be worked through more," said Tim Ritschard, the board's president.

Ritschard said privacy concerns could be responsible for the lack of claims since the name of the producer could be found in an open records request. He said there are no plans for a lawsuit from the ranchers or the Middle Park Stockgrowers board, but they are concerned about the possibility of wolf pups.

"The mom and dad will have to teach them how to survive," said Ritschard. "We'll see more depredations then.”

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