According to officials, clues left behind show that a wolf has killed a dog in northern Colorado's Jackson County.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife received a report of a potential wolf depredation incident involving two border collies on January 9 from a ranch in Jackson County. One dog was killed and the other was injured.
Upon investigation, a CPW authority found wolf tracks in the area and wounds on the deceased dog that were determined to be consistent with those of a wolf attack.
This killing comes weeks after Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed that a wolf killed a domestic calf near the town of Walden in late December, also in Jackson County – the first confirmed wolf-livestock killing in Colorado in at least 70 years. In that case, wolf tracks and wounds consistent with a wolf attack were also used to confirm the kill, exemplifying a concern shared by many Colorado ranchers regarding wolves' potential impact on the livestock industry.
Though grey wolves don't typically look at domestic dogs as a source of food, the species will attack pets in some situations – often when they seem to feel their territory or livelihood is threatened. Wolves can exhibit a similar behavior toward unknown wolves they encounter.
While formal reintroduction of wolves into Colorado has yet to begin, a lone wolf pack was discovered in Colorado in early 2020, having naturally migrated from a bordering state. Prior to the presence of that pack, a wolf population was absent from Colorado since their eradication in the 1940s.
Gray wolves are considered a state-endangered species and as a result, they can not be legally killed for any reason other than self-defense. Because of this rule, livestock producers are unable to kill wolves that may be preying on their animals without risk of serious consequences, including fines up to $100,000, a year of jail time, and a lifetime loss of hunting privileges.
In cases where a wolf kills livestock, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reimburses the livestock provider under an existing game damage process. This reimbursement program does not seem to apply to working dogs killed by wolves.
A wolf-specific process for compensating in the case of depredation is being formalized as part of the gray wolf reintroduction plan. A summary of the ongoing planning process related to wolf depredation compensation, along with information about upcoming meetings on the topic, can be found here.
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