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Colorado secures first round of gray wolves for reintroduction from Oregon

CPW will "make efforts" to transplant wolves that have not been involved in injuring or killing domestic animals or cattle
Posted: 1:51 PM, Oct 06, 2023
Updated: 2023-11-07 17:27:52-05
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DENVER — After a summer of “maybes” and one resounding “hell no” from the state of Wyoming, Colorado announced Friday it had secured its first round of gray wolves for reintroduction into the Western Slope from at least one state in the Pacific Northwest.

Oregon will be sending up to 10 gray wolves to aid in Colorado’s plan to reintroduce wolves on public lands west of the Continental Divide before 2024, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). The wolves will be captured and moved between December 2023 and March 2024.

The agreement between CPW and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is good for a year.

“We are grateful to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for working with our agency on this critical next step in reintroducing gray wolves in the state,” said CPW Director Jeff Davis. “This agreement will help ensure Colorado Parks and Wildlife can meet its statutory mandate to begin releasing wolves in Colorado by December 31, 2023.”

The wolves will come from northwest Oregon where they are most abundant in the state, and where their removal will not impact any conservation goals, said ODFW Director Curt Melcher.

Their capture will begin this December with the help of the ODFW, who will help CPW officials by sharing wolf location information and best practices for wolf capture, according to the news release. CPW will foot the bill for the capture and transport of the wolves.

Wolves will return to Colorado: What you should know about the reintroduction plan

Wolves with several broken canines, missing eyes, fractured or missing limbs, mange or lice infection will not be chosen for reintroduction, wildlife officials said. CPW will "make efforts" to transplant wolves that have not been involved in injuring or killing domestic animals or cattle.

“The wolves will be released at select sites in Colorado as soon as possible once they arrive in the state to minimize stress on the animals,” said CPW Wolf Conservation Program Manager Eric Odell. “CPW will aim to capture and reintroduce an equal number of males and females. We anticipate that the majority of animals will be in the 1- to 5-year-old range, which is the age that animals would typically disperse from the pack they were born in.”

Gray wolves were native to Colorado but were hunted to near extinction by the 1940s, with the last Colorado wolf being killed in the middle of that decade. About 6,000 of the animals now live in the Northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest and Western Great Lakes after the federal government reintroduced the wolves in Yellowstone National Park in the mid ‘90s.

The wolves were added to the U.S. Endangered Species list in 1978 as their numbers dwindled – all but eradicated from the Rocky Mountains.

As their population grew following their western reintroduction, however, states like Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have started to manage them and allow some to be killed after they were delisted for those states.

Earlier this year, Denver7 reached out to the five states outlined in the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan that were being eyed as potential donors. Idaho and Montana previously said they were not interested in participating. Washington has yet to announce whether they’ll aid in Colorado’s efforts. Wyoming was the only state opposed to sending wolves to our state.

A provision in Colorado law stipulates ranchers have to be reimbursed for the losses they suffer due to the reintroduction of wolves.

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