The Colorado Wild is Calling, and Wolves are Heeding the Call
Although Colorado has not been home for wolves since they were exterminated by federally-funded bounties in the 1940s, a small number of lone wolves have wandered into the state over the past two decades. Single wolves were confirmed in 2004, 2009, 2015, and 2019. Despite their federal protection, these lone travelers are vulnerable without a pack, and too often fall victim to poachers or, mistaken for coyotes, killed by hunters.
In an exciting turn of events, an eyewitness reported six large canids traveling together in the far northwest corner of Colorado last October, just a few miles from a thoroughly scavenged bull elk carcass discovered last week. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, these clues ”strongly suggests a pack of gray wolves may now be residing in Colorado.”
“The sighting marks the first time in recent history CPW has received a report of multiple wolves traveling together,” stated CPW Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke.
News about this wolf family came just one day following Colorado Secretary of State’s announcement that Initiative 107, a measure that would require state wildlife managers to reintroduce wolves to Western Colorado by the end of 2023, had earned its place on the 2020 ballot after Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund’s collection of an estimated 139,333 valid signatures.
Despite this historic first, members of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund insist that it remains essential for Colorado voters to pass the wolf reintroduction ballot initiative in November in order to give wolves a chance of recovery.
What will happen in November? We’ll have to wait and see what Colorado voters choose. In the meantime, we know one thing for sure – the Colorado wild is calling, and wolves are heeding the call.
After all, wolves do belong there.
Wolves can find excellent habitat in Colorado. The federal government manages about 55% of the land in the state, including 9.5 million acres of roadless areas, and the state hosts an estimated 300,000 elk or 30% of the nation’s total elk population.
Moreover, wolves are essential for resilient and healthy ecosystems. As top-level predators, they are influential in shaping and maintaining the structure of their natural communities.