NewsLocal News


'Wolf program remains on track': CPW updates on wolf reproduction, conflict minimization, community outreach

CPW said it has not received any reports of gray wolf depredations since the animals were released in mid-December.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife_wolf reintro
Posted at 1:01 PM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 17:08:14-04

DENVER — All of the 10 gray wolves released in Colorado in December as part of the restoration plan have remained in the state and have not preyed on livestock as of Wednesday morning, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced during a CPW Commission meeting.

Reid DeWalt, CPW’s assistant director of aquatic, terrestrial, and natural resources, presented an update on the wolf reintroduction effort during the CPW Commission meeting on Wednesday, which was virtual due to a major upcoming winter storm.

CPW Commission will meet virtually on Wednesday, Thursday

As part of the state's voter-mandated reintroduction effort, CPW released its first five gray wolves on Dec. 18, 2023 at an undisclosed place in Grand County. Five more were released a few days later in Grand and Summit counties. All 10 were collared. The state secured an additional 15 from tribal lands in northeastern Washington to reintroduce next winter. This is all in the wake of the May 2023 approval of the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan.

On Wednesday morning, DeWalt told the CPW Commission that about three months have passed since the gray wolves were released. Since then, and as of Wednesday, all of the wolves are still in Colorado and appear to be doing well. While they are moving around, they have mostly stayed around the areas where they were released, DeWalt said.

At the start of the year, CPW released its new mapping tool to share — generally — where the gray wolves are traveling in the state, based on watersheds. The latest map, published on Feb. 28, 2024, is below. It is updated every fourth Wednesday on the CPW website.

Collared gray wolf activity

For a watershed to indicate wolf activity, CPW must have data for at least one GPS point from a wolf collar within the watershed boundaries. Just because a watershed is purple in the above map does not mean the animals are present throughout the entire watershed, CPW said. Along those lines, DeWalt clarified that a rumor circulating about the released wolves being close to the Wyoming border is not true.

DeWalt also brought good news on the livestock front: The agency has not received any reports of the 10 released wolves depredating on livestock.

As calving season approaches for livestock producers, CPW said it hopes to set up four additional supply houses — or stash houses — in addition to the four already in place. These supply houses hold wolf depredation prevention materials that can be easily provided to producers if any wolf conflicts arise, DeWalt said.

These sorts of prevention materials and resources are supported by purchases of the Colorado wolf license plate. DeWalt said to date, the license plate sales have raised about $66,000.

CPW is currently in the hiring process for five conflict specialists who will focus on gray wolves, but can also investigate issues involving black bears and mountain lions. It's also working to hire a statewide wolf conflict coordinator.

DeWalt said one common question CPW has fielded centers around if packs or pairs are forming. Wolf breeding typically falls in mid-February, but CPW said it is too early to determine if any of them have bred. The animals have a roughly 60-day gestation period. By mid-April, CPW may have more information about any potential dens and reproduction, DeWalt said.

He also updated the commissioners on some items that he plans to bring to a future CPW Commission meeting, which includes defining "chronic depredation" and pool livestock compensation, and determining how it can compensate people who own bison if depredation occurs, since bison are not considered livestock in the plan.

DeWalt described how CPW has set up monthly meetings with agricultural leader groups, such as the Colorado Wool Growers Association and Colorado Farm Bureau, to make sure they have current information about the wolf restoration plan and know how to request resources. CPW held a similar sort of meeting with wolf advocacy groups.

"From our standpoint and the biological standpoint, the wolf program remains on track and is going according to what we planned in the restoration and management plan," he said.

CPW has participated in countless other meetings around the state, including with the Colorado Agriculture Forum, North Park Stockgrowers Association, Routt County Extension Group and more, Travis Black, CPW’s NW regional manager explained.

Black, who also attended Wednesday's meeting, described how these meetings will become more and more important as livestock start having babies. He said the district wildlife manager is out in the community on a daily basis to talk about conflict minimization tools and do outreach.

Toward the end of the wolf-related part of the CPW Commission meeting, CPW Director Jeff Davis complimented his staff's efforts in the public meetings.

"I just want to say a lot of this work — the learning is happening not just within CPW, but also with our rural landowners," he said.

He complimented the livestock producers who have attended the meetings and brought "great questions" and "constructive" comments.

"We're all learning together," he said.

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.