Colorado Parks And Wildlife Release 5 Wolves In Historic Reintroduction Plan

December 20, 2023

In a significant step towards wildlife conservation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) executed a historic release of five gray wolves into public land in Grand County, marking the commencement of a voter-approved reintroduction program.

The initiative aims to establish a sustainable and self-sustaining gray wolf population in Colorado.

colorado releases wolves
Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The gray wolves, initially captured in Oregon, underwent a thorough evaluation by CPW veterinarians and biologists to ensure their fitness for relocation. Criteria for release encompassed considerations such as age, sex, health, and overall body condition of each animal.

Before their release into the remote forest of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, each gray wolf underwent a detailed examination, including weight and measurement assessments. CPW staff collected essential genetic material through tissue and blood samples. Additionally, each wolf was equipped with a GPS satellite collar to facilitate tracking post-release.

This release is part of a broader plan outlined in the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, which envisions the reintroduction of 10 to 15 wolves in Colorado by mid-March 2024. CPW aims to release 30 to 50 wolves over the next 3 to 5 years, utilizing a strategic approach involving the capture of wolves from neighboring northern Rockies states. These wolves will be obtained through trapping and darting during the winter months, ensuring a careful and controlled reintroduction process.

Gray wolves hold a dual status as both state and federally endangered species in Colorado, as designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This reintroduction project stands as a noteworthy milestone in CPW's longstanding commitment to species recovery within the state.

As the gray wolves find their new home in the remote expanses of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, this initiative reflects a dedicated effort towards restoring ecological balance and preserving the rich biodiversity of the region.

"Today, history was made in Colorado. For the first time since the 1940s, the howl of wolves will officially return to western Colorado. The return of wolves fulfills the will of voters who, in 2020, passed an initiative requiring the reintroduction of wolves starting by Dec. 31, 2023. What followed were three years of comprehensive listening and work by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to draft a plan to restore and manage wolves that included public meetings in every corner of the state and was inclusive of all points of view and weighed the needs of a wide range of communities with a deep interest in the thoughtful outcome of this effort," said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. "I am proud of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff for their hard work to make this happen. The shared efforts to reintroduce wolves are just getting started and wolves will rejoin a diverse ecosystem of Colorado wildlife."

Watch the video of the release below.

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