The question of whether or not wolves should be reintroduced to Colorado has been a hot topic of debate for over a decade. Some hope that the reintroduction will bring balance to an ecosystem that’s seeing effects of a high elk population – a food source for the wolf. Others fear that reintroduction could be too disruptive – an instance in which humans would be meddling where they shouldn’t be. In spite of this debate, there’s also the chance that a planned reintroduction won’t be necessary, with wolves possibly on their way to naturally reestablishing their population in the Centennial State.
Roughly two years ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued a press release in response to an uptick in local wolf sightings. In that press release, officials detailed how it’s likely that we’re not far off from an established wolf population in Colorado. Because wolves are able to travel long distances, it’s practical for them to move into new regions, it’s just a question of whether or not they end up staying and developing a sustainable population there.
Interestingly enough, if you look at this list of animals on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, the gray wolf is listed as “state endangered,” which may indicate that their presence is already acknowledged. Of course, the grizzly is also listed as “state endangered,” an animal widely accepted to be eradicated in Colorado. Perhaps both designations are simply legal necessities to prevent illegal poaching should one of these animals cross state lines, but it could also indicate something else – particularly in the case of the wolf.
While grizzly sightings tend to be unsubstantiated or unconfirmed, wolf sightings have been more credible in recent years. For instance, one wolf was shot by a hunter in Kremmling, Colorado in 2015, and another was found poisoned in 2009. There’s not doubt that wolves have been sneaking their way into our state for years. The question then becomes whether or not they’re sticking around, and if not, when they will.
If you want to get up-close and personal with some wolves in a safer setting, check out the Rock Mountain Wildlife Foundation for a free tour of their property (donations accepted).
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