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HomeGeneralColorado Releases Five Wolves in Reintroduction Program Three Years After Voters Passed...

Colorado Releases Five Wolves in Reintroduction Program Three Years After Voters Passed the Ballot

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A picture of wolves
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According to a news release, Colorado Parks and Wildlife released five wolves at an undisclosed location in Grand County. They reportedly captured the wolves in Oregon and flew them to Colorado last weekend. This move comes three years after Colorado Voters narrowly passed a ballot initiative to reintroduce wolves. 

Hence, the first paws from the initiative hit the ground running on Monday, December 18, 2023. While transporting them, officials fitted the wolves with tracking radio collars and gave them numerical names according to their collars. They captured the wolves from three different packs in northeast Oregon via helicopter. 

While two wolves are from the Five Points pack, two are from the Noregaard Pack. However, the last one, an adult male, is from the Wenaha Pack. Also, the wolves weighed between 68 and 108 pounds. Reports also suggest that officials vaccinated the wolves, placed them in crates, and flew them to Colorado.

The wolves include two juvenile males, two juvenile females, and one adult male. While three of the wolves are gray, two are black. The U.S. government exterminated wolves across the nation by the 1930s under government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns.

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ALSO READ: Are the Wolves Back? Here’s Why California Residents Are Worried

However, this return follows a 1990s reintroduction effort that brought wolves from Canada to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. According to studies, wolf reintroduction has various positive effects on impacted ecosystems. However, Oregon was the only state willing and able to provide Colorado wolves to meet this year’s deadline.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife revealed that it will be repeating the process. The agency plans to reintroduce at least 10 to 15 wolves into the state by mid-March 2024. “Today, we made history in Colorado,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a news release. “For the first time since the 1940s, the howl of wolves will officially return to western Colorado.”

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In addition, Polis said, “The return of wolves fulfills the will of voters.” In a release, Katie Schneider, Rockies and Plains representative at Defenders of Wildlife said it is a historic moment. “Living alongside wolves and other wildlife is part of life in the West,” she said. “And we have the tools we need to successfully restore this piece of our natural heritage.”

Also, Schneider urged residents to let the wolves become Colorado’s first self-sustaining wolf population in over 80 years. The 2020 initiative passed by voters 51% to 49% to reintroduce wolves was the first in the U.S. 

In addition, it was the first reintroduction of the polarizing predator since 1995-96 in Yellowstone National Park and Idaho. While some residents wanted the reintroduction of wolves, others didn’t. The latter is the case for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, which sued to delay the reintroduction. 

ALSO READ: Judge Dismisses Cattlemen’s Request to Halt Wolf Reintroduction in Colorado

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However, a federal judge in Denver denied the livestock groups’ eleventh-hour request by ruling in favor of wildlife conservation groups. Since Wolves are famous for wandering far and wide, Colorado has a recovery plan. 

The state’s wolf recovery plan calls for releasing wolves no closer than 60 miles from state lines and tribal boundaries. Consequently, Colorado has an agreement with Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona to recapture and return reintroduced wolves to Colorado. 

However, Colorado Parks and Wildlife does not have an agreement with Wyoming. As the wolves return to Colorado, experts say they will help restore the state’s ecosystem balance. 

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