DENVER — As of Thursday morning, all 10 of Colorado's recently reintroduced gray wolves are doing well and Colorado Parks and Wildlife has not received any reports of livestock depredation, the agency announced.
Reid DeWalt, assistant director of aquatic, terrestrial, and natural resources at CPW, presented a brief update on the wolves during a CPW Commission meeting on Thursday morning.
As part of the state's voter-mandated reintroduction effort, CPW released its first five gray wolves on Dec. 18 at an undisclosed place in Grand County. Five more were released a few days later in Grand and Summit counties. All 10 were captured from packs in Oregon.
DeWalt said he was happy to report that all 10 wolves — six females and four males — are doing well and have stayed in Colorado. He added that in the past three to four weeks since the release, there have been no reports of livestock depredation as of Thursday morning.
"If we were in the position to revisit that pack selection today, I would say we would select the same animals we brought down," he said.
He told the commission that the major aspect CPW would change about the process so far is how they communicated about the selection of wolves. It's something he said they will work to improve in the future.
“In hindsight, I should have been more direct with the fact that we were bringing in a predator and that all animals we were going to capture were going to have a history of interactions with livestock," he said.
Previously, CPW told Denver7 that any wolves that live near livestock "will have some history of depredation, and this includes all packs in Oregon. This does not mean they have a history of chronic depredation. If a pack has had infrequent depredation events, they should not be excluded as a source population per the plan." Travis Duncan, CPW's lead on gray wolves, said in December that the Oregon officials lethally removed four wolves from the Five Points Pack in early August after two depredations in July. The pack has not depredated since, Duncan said. Some of Colorado's wolves are from the Five Points Pack.
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"CPW took multiple factors into account when deciding to bring in animals from the Five Points Pack, as that particular pack has some history of depredations on livestock," he explained. "Factors such as size of pack, previous removals from the pack, pack behavior after removals, and age of captured wolves were all considered... The change in pack behavior and the lack of current depredations met CPW criteria for accepting the animals."
Duncan added that CPW passed on several larger and easier-to-access packs in Oregon because they had recent depredation or had a chronic or ongoing depredation history.
During the CPW Commission meeting Thursday, DeWalt said the reintroduction has been difficult to "do exactly right," but he feels confident that CPW will continue to rise to the challenge.
“So, we will continue to listen, learn and get better," he said.
Currently, DeWalt said CPW is gearing up to add an additional five wolves to Colorado, though details on this were not immediately available.
Looking ahead, CPW will continue with the operation according to the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, which calls for the transfer of 30 to 50 wolves to Colorado over a period of three to five years, aiming for 10 to 15 wolves from multiple packs each year. After that point, the reintroduction efforts will stop and CPW will monitor if the population is self-sustaining.
DeWalt said the agency is deciding how to share the general locations of the wolves on its website for public knowledge — a popular request, he said — while balancing the need to keep the animals protected.