Gray wolf puppies will help Colorado Parks & Wildlife develop a reintroduction plan

The fact that Colorado wildlife officials have sighted gray wolf puppies in Colorado – the first in the state in 80 years – will not delay or slow the reintroduction of predators mandated by state voters.

“Measuring the ballot requires establishing a self-sustaining population, and this pack is not a population,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Rebecca Ferrell said.

In November, voters narrowly approved a measure ordering Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reintroduce wolves to Colorado by the end of 2023. The agency launched a public campaign to gather feedback and form a reintroduction plan. which includes cash management strategies and a breeder reimbursement program. for cattle killed by wolves.

First phase of this campaign – managed by the Keystone Policy Center and detailed at Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting Thursday in Trinidad – will include over 40 meetings over the next few months. The center is planning 13 in-person open houses on the reintroduction of the wolf on the Western Slope and 17 “geographic focus group” meetings in western Colorado. There are 10 smaller meetings, by invitation only, for groups of 15-20 participants statewide. And a statewide online public meeting on wolves is also scheduled. The agency will soon announce the exact dates and locations of all these meetings.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced last week a 17-member “technical task force” made up of Rocky Mountain wildlife biologists and land managers, as well as agricultural representatives and elected officials from Colorado. This group will meet in private. A 19-member “stakeholder advisory group” – with environmentalists, ranchers, biologists, landowners, wildlife advocates and elected leaders from all over Colorado – will meet publicly and offer considerations for the plans developed by the technical working group.

Colorado wildlife officials last week reported seeing three Cubs with their parents in northwest Colorado, where a stray wolf was first sighted in 2019. Cubs were the first to be spotted in Colorado since the 1940s, when the species was nearly eradicated from the Southern Rockies. .

Governor Jared Polis Wednesday announced the sightings, claiming that the passage of the reintroduction legislation means that “these puppies will have a lot of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commissioners did not mention the sighting of the wolf family during their meeting in Trinidad, where they overheard the Keystone Policy Center talking about plans for public meetings.

But wildlife biologists will be keeping a close watch on the two wolves – known as M2101 “John” and F1084 “Jane,” who naturally migrated into the state – to see how they adapt to Colorado with their puppies. Yes, confirmation of wolf breeding is historic, Ferrell said this week, but that doesn’t change the reintroduction plan.

“What it does is give our field staff the opportunity to observe and glean additional data on these two naturally migrating – and now breeding – wolves, and document how they navigate through life. in our state, ”she said. “This will add to our conversations with other state and federal partners as we move forward in our process.”

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