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Colorado: Wolf pack moves into Summit County

County will have to cut human population by about 30 percent to provide adequate wolf habitat

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —The howl of coyotes is familiar to high country residents, who have long lived with the spine-tingling sound.

But lately, a new and improved howl has been heard, as a small wolf pack has detoured from Wyoming into Colorado to set up a home range in the White River National Forest.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists formally made the announcement April 1, declaring that most public lands in Summit County are now considered critical habitat for wolves and putting and end to pesky recreational uses like skiing, hiking and mountain biking.

“Summit County will from now on be the country’s largest wolf sanctuary,” said USFWS biologist Smirk Frozendorf, adding that some people in neighborhoods like Breckenridge Highlands and Wildernest will probably have to give up their homes and move out in order to make room for the county’s newest residents.

“Wolves really like a lot of elbow room and we don’t want to cramp their style,” Frozendorf said, adding that the federal agency plans to start the relocation process on April 1.

Additionally, several elk feeding stations will be set up to attract more of the ungulates, which will help sustain the hungry wolf population. So far, the pack has only eaten a few dogs and cats, but with wolf pups expected in the next few months, they will be looking for more food, so people should be on the lookout.

“In our experience, the wolves really like to hang around schools, so we’re thinking about implementing a mandatory parent pickup program.” No kids would be able to leave the school grounds until their parent is outside the main entrance in a heavy duty SUV, preferably a Hummer specially designed to withstand predator attacks.

The public is invited to attend a scoping session the evening of April 1 at the county commons to help develop a wolf management plan for the area.