The day after a measure to reintroduce the gray wolf to Colorado was approved for November’s ballot, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that approximately six gray wolves have likely crossed over the Wyoming border into northwest Colorado. Though good news, experts caution that this is just the beginning of a long road ahead for the return of wolves to the state.
“Let’s keep this event in perspective: one pack does not make or guarantee a population,” said Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains program director at Defenders of Wildlife. “This pack remains very close to the Wyoming border and could migrate back out or be illegally killed by people and we’d be back to zero. The way to ensure a future for the gray wolf in Colorado is to reintroduce wolves as called for in voter Initiative 107.”
Initiative 107 would direct Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop a plan to reintroduce wolves to Colorado by end of 2023. The petition effort, which was funded in part by Defenders of Wildlife, accrued 215,370 signatures and ultimately had almost 112% of the required signatures to place it on the ballot. Coloradans will vote on the measure in November 2020.
Evidence of the new pack was first found in October, when two hunters captured a video of the “six large canids” roaming the land. Recently, a scavenged elk carcass surrounded by wolf tracks was discovered nearby. Single wolves periodically cross over into Colorado, but this event represents the first time in recent history—and one of the few instances in the past 80 years—that a pack has crossed into the state. While wolves once thrived throughout Colorado, they were fully eradicated by humans by the 1940s.
The presence of the wolves is an encouraging sign for Coloradans fighting for their return.
“There’s no question, this is an exciting and unexpected new development,” said Proctor. “We’re hopeful that these wolves will remain in Colorado, remain protected from human harm, and contribute to future wolf recovery.”