New Legislation Aims to Restore Wolverine Populations in Colorado Rocky Mountains

DENVER, COLORADO – In a landmark move for wildlife conservation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), alongside a bipartisan group of legislators, announced on March 5, 2024, plans to reintroduce the North American wolverine to the state’s wilderness. This ambitious project marks a significant step in restoring Colorado’s native species diversity, emphasizing the state’s commitment to ecological preservation and scientific wildlife management.

The wolverine, known for its resilience and preference for high-altitude habitats, once roamed freely across Colorado’s rugged landscapes. However, due to unregulated hunting and poisoning in the early 1900s, the species was extirpated from the state. Efforts to bring back the wolverine follow the successful reintroduction of the Canada lynx, showcasing CPW’s dedication to revitalizing Colorado’s natural heritage.

Under the proposed legislation, SB24-171, the reintroduction process hinges on a special designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The North American wolverine must be classified as a “nonessential experimental population” under the Endangered Species Act before any reintroduction efforts commence. This classification aims to provide the necessary legal and management flexibility to ensure the initiative’s success.

CPW Director Jeff Davis expressed optimism about the project, stating, “Colorado has some of the best remaining unoccupied wolverine habitat in the lower 48 states. This legislation puts us on the right path toward a successful reintroduction effort.” Legislators, including House Sponsor Representative Barbara McLachlan and Senators Perry Will and Dylan Roberts, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of preserving wildlife diversity and addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

The legislation outlines several critical steps for the reintroduction, including cooperation with federal land management agencies, compensation for livestock losses, and detailed reporting on the wolverine population’s progress. Importantly, the initiative will be funded by the Species Conservation Trust Fund, with a proposed budget of $750,000, emphasizing that no hunting or fishing license revenue will be used for the project.

Colorado’s high-elevation, snowy habitats are crucial for the wolverine’s survival, offering a refuge as climate change threatens its traditional environments. CPW biologists estimate the state could support a population of 100-180 wolverines, potentially increasing the species’ numbers in the Western U.S. by over 20%.

Readers who wish to support this groundbreaking legislation can take action by contacting their local representatives, participating in public comment sessions, and spreading awareness about the importance of biodiversity and species conservation. Together, we can ensure the successful return of the wolverine to Colorado’s wilderness, enhancing our state’s ecological diversity and resilience.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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