DENVER, COLORADO – In a groundbreaking move that marks a significant stride in wildlife conservation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has officially initiated the reintroduction of gray wolves into Colorado. Today, five gray wolves were released into the wilds of Grand County, fulfilling a mandate set forth by Colorado voters in 2020.
The wolves, originally captured in Oregon, underwent thorough evaluation by CPW veterinarians and biologists to ensure they were ideal candidates for relocation. This process included assessments of their age, sex, health, and overall body condition. Following this, each wolf was fitted with a GPS satellite collar, allowing for continuous tracking and study after their release.
The reintroduced pack includes:
- 2302-OR: Juvenile female, black color, 68 lbs., Five Points Pack.
- 2303-OR: Juvenile male, gray color, 76 lbs., Five Points Pack.
- 2304-OR: Juvenile female, gray color, 76 lbs., Noregaard Pack.
- 2305-OR: Juvenile male, black color, 93 lbs., Noregaard Pack.
- 2307-OR: Adult male, gray color, 108 lbs., Wenaha Pack.
The naming convention of these wolves signifies their year of capture, gender, order of collaring, and origin, with “OR” denoting they are from Oregon.
This reintroduction is part of a larger plan by CPW, aiming to release 30 to 50 wolves over the next 3 to 5 years, in hopes of establishing a self-sustaining wolf population in Colorado. These efforts align with the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, approved after extensive public engagement and stakeholder meetings.
The USFWS, recognizing the gray wolf as an endangered species in Colorado, has designated this reintroduced population as Experimental under Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act, providing necessary management flexibility.
Reflecting on this historic day, Colorado Governor Jared Polis stated, “The return of wolves fulfills the will of voters… I am proud of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff for their hard work.” Dan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the collaborative effort in making this reintroduction possible.
Jeff Davis, CPW Director, and Reid DeWalt, CPW Assistant Director, emphasized the significant planning and coordination involved in this project, thanking the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for their cooperation.
Eric Odell, CPW Wolf Conservation Program Manager, expressed his honor in participating in this historic effort, noting the favorable conditions and effective collaboration that led to the successful capture and release of these wolves.
The reintroduction of gray wolves in Colorado is not just a win for wildlife conservation; it represents a balanced approach to ecosystem management and species recovery. It stands as a testament to the power of public will, scientific planning, and inter-agency cooperation in preserving our natural heritage.