March 4, 2006
By Dale Rodebaugh | Herald Staff Writer
The sighting in northwest Colorado of what wildlife experts say looks very much like a wolf has sparked new interest among conservationists about reintroducing wolves into the state.
See for yourself
The video of an animal that wildlife experts say is a wolf is on the Web site of the Colorado Division of Wildlife at http://www.wildlife.state.co.us
“Colorado is a tremendous place for wolves,” said Rob Edward, of Sinapu, a group dedicated to protecting wild carnivores in the southern Rockies. “Seeing them from time to time (in the state) is important because it demonstrates the connectivity between Yellowstone National Park (the probable source of the suspected wolf) and Colorado.”
Edward said he’s seen the video of the suspected wolf taken by a Colorado Division of Wildlife district manager.
“It’s a wolf,” Edward said. “If I were a betting man, I’d put money on it.”
The video was taken Feb. 16 after a rancher reported seeing the animal about 10 miles south of the Colorado/Wyoming line north of Walden. The rancher reported the sighting to the wildlife officers.
Mark Pearson, director of the Durango-based San Juan Citizens Alliance, is a member of statewide group that devised a wolf-management plan for Colorado. The group continues to meet.
Pearson wasn’t available for comment Friday.
The last wild wolf known to have entered Colorado was killed on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs in 2004. Government trappers wiped out the last known breeding wolves in Colorado in the 1940s.
Colorado Division of Wildlife personnel want people to report animals that they think are wolves, although they usually turn out to be coyotes, dogs or other animals.
According to the DOW, biologists and wolf specialists who have seen the Feb. 16 video say the black animal looks and behaves like a wolf. The animal has no visible tags or collar, but there’s no way to be absolutely sure, according to a DOW news release.
Wolves in Colorado are managed as an endangered species under federal law. The Colorado Wildlife Commission last year adopted a plan for migrating wolves, but it won’t go into effect until the species is removed from federal protection. The state doesn’t plan to reintroduce wolves.
Colorado won’t have a breeding population of wolves unless they’re reintroduced as was the lynx, Edward said. It’s much more difficult to re-establish lynx than wolves, he said.
“We should move forward with reintroducing wolves,” Edward said. “It would be nice to have a population here to greet wolves that wander in from Wyoming.”
The Colorado migrating-wolf plan says wolves should be allowed to live wherever they find food and shelter; they should be monitored; ranchers should be compensated for stock losses; and wildlife managers may control wolves if they hinder the management of other species.