Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday that they believe a pack of gray wolves are now living in Colorado. The announcement comes just days after the reintroduction of wolves officially made it onto the 2020 ballot. CPW reports that a pack of six wolves were seen traveling together last October and an elk carcass was devoured near Moffat County’s Irish Canyon just last week. The kill took place just miles from the sighting. The hunters who found the carcass reported that ‘large dog like tracks’ surrounded the area. CPW later corroborated the initial findings with lab results. It seems the wolves do not need Colorado voter approval.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is continuing to investigate the matter. However, officials have said they are confident that there is an active wolf pack in Northwestern Colorado. CPW is urging locals to report any wolf activity to help with the case. The wolf pack was located just days after their reintroduction gained enough signatures for the state wide ballot. Moffat County was the first county to adopt a resolution in opposition of wolf reintroduction, no less. Don Cook, the District 1 commissioner said he is nervous about the impact wolves will have on recreation in the area. “They’re going to kill whatever they can,” Cook said. “That’s probably going to have an impact on the hunting and recreation in that area, sooner rather than later.”
Wolves were wiped out in Colorado in the 1940’s. If voters decide to reintroduce wolves CPW will be forced to get the project going by the end of 2023. The wolves would be reintroduced west of the Continental Divide. The bill would also include a fund to compensate farmers for livestock losses associated with the wolf reintroduction. Supporters of the bill say that the wolves could help balance ecosystems like they have in the Yellowstone National Park. Wolves have helped thin overgrown elk populations there. Opposition for the ballot says that it is an example of “Ballot-Box Biology,” putting a wildlife science question into the hands of the average voter. Similarly, The Christian Science Monitor reported that the bill “allows wolf-lovers in Denver and Boulder to make a decision that would affect ranchers and hunters in the western part of the state.” This will be the first time voters have the authority to bring back Gray Wolves to Colorado.