By: Blayke Roznowski
DENVER, Colo. — With a renewed interested in gray wolves in Colorado following the passage of Proposition 114, Colorado Parks and Wildlife provided details on the status of the gray wolf population in the state.
Visual confirmation of the wolf population can be more challenging than some other species because of their elusive nature, however, game camera images, tracks and fur have been detected in the field throughout the summer and into November.
“As recently as last week we have confirmed the presence of wolves in Moffat County via pictures and recorded howling,” CPW Director Dan Prenzlow said. “Staff will continue monitoring the area as part of our overall wildlife management and conservation duties, and we will share information when we have updates or can help clear up any misunderstanding of wolf activity in Colorado.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission discussed their next steps in undertaking the planning efforts directed by Proposition 114 at the Nov. 19 meeting. Proposition 114 directs the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to:
- ■Develop a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves in Colorado by Dec. 31, 2023, on designated lands west of the Continental Divide.
- ■Hold statewide hearings about scientific, economic and social considerations.
- ■Periodically obtain public input to update the plan.
- ■Use state funds to assist livestock owners in preventing conflicts with gray wolves and pay fair compensation for livestock losses.
The proposed delisting of gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act is set for Jan. 4, 2021 at which time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would no longer provide management control of the species. The wolves were added to the U.S. Endangered Species list in 1978 at at time when the population was nearly eradicated from the Rocky Mountains.
According to the U.S. Department of Interior, the Trump Administration and conservation partners determined there has been a successful recovery of gray wolves with a total population of more than 6,000 in the lower 48 states. CPW cannot provide a specific population number of wolves in Colorado, but staff have identified as many as six congregating wolves in 2020.
Even with federal delisting, grey wolves remain listed as a state endangered species in Colorado, which means killing a wolf in Colorado for any reason other than self-defense is illegal, according to CPW. Until delisting from the ESA, killing a wolf in Colorado can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, per offense. Severe penalties will still apply when CPW regains management control in the state.
CPW is monitoring the Moffat County area and taking sighting reports and game camera images people on the ground. CPW urges the public to contact them immediately and fill out a report if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of wolf activity in Colorado.