Colorado Receives 15 More Gray Wolves from Washington Tribe

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced on Thursday that it has secured 15 more gray wolves from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington state. The wolves will be released in Colorado’s Western Slope as part of the ongoing reintroduction program mandated by voters in 2020.

A Historic Partnership

The agreement between CPW and the Colville Tribes is the first of its kind in the nation, as it involves the transfer of wolves from a tribal land to a state. The Colville Tribes have been managing their own wolf population since 2012, and have expressed their support for restoring wolves to their ancestral lands in Colorado.

CPW Director Jeff Davis praised the partnership as a historic and meaningful collaboration that honors the cultural and ecological significance of wolves. He also thanked the Colville Tribes for their generosity and leadership in conservation.

Colville Tribal Chairman Rodney Cawston said that the tribes are proud to share their wolves with Colorado, and hope that they will thrive and contribute to the balance of nature. He also said that the tribes are looking forward to working with CPW and other stakeholders to ensure the success of the reintroduction program.

A Careful Selection Process

The 15 wolves, consisting of 10 males and 5 females, were captured from four different packs on the Colville Reservation. CPW biologists and veterinarians evaluated the wolves for their health, age, genetics, and behavior before selecting them for translocation. The wolves were also tested and treated for diseases, fitted with GPS collars, and physically measured.

Gray Wolves from Washington Tribe

CPW followed the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, which was unanimously adopted by the CPW Commission in May 2023, in the selection process. The plan was informed by technical experts, stakeholder groups, and public feedback, and aimed to achieve a balanced mix of wolves that would facilitate natural dispersal and reproduction.

CPW also consulted with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), which provided 10 wolves from Oregon to Colorado in December 2023. The Oregon wolves were released in Summit and Grand counties, and have been monitored by CPW staff. CPW and ODFW have agreed to continue their cooperation for another year, and plan to translocate up to 10 more wolves from Oregon to Colorado by March 2024.

A Promising Future

The addition of 15 wolves from Washington brings the total number of reintroduced wolves in Colorado to 25, which is halfway to the initial goal of 50 wolves by the end of 2024. CPW expects that the wolves will establish territories, form packs, and breed in the coming months, and hopes to see the first pups born in Colorado this spring.

CPW also continues to engage with the public and various stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of the reintroduction program. CPW has established a Wolf Advisory Committee, composed of representatives from agriculture, wildlife, recreation, local government, and tribal interests, to provide input and guidance on wolf management issues. CPW has also launched a Wolf Sighting Form on its website, where the public can report any observations or signs of wolves in Colorado.

CPW reminds the public to respect the wolves and keep a safe distance from them, as well as to secure their livestock and pets, store their food properly, and educate themselves and others about the benefits and challenges of living with wolves. CPW also urges the public to report any illegal or suspicious activities involving wolves to the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-877-265-6648.

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