Between June 4th and 8th, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff members observed three new wolf pups with their parents, collared wolves M2101 “John” and F1084 “Jane” who are known to reside in the state. It is not yet confirmed that these are the only pups as a typical wolf litter consists of between four to six pups.
While these observations were necessarily made at long distance, CPW staff have recorded three separate, but similar, sightings of pups on the ground in Colorado. They conducted three separate observations of the den site from a safe distance approximately two miles away.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado. With voter passage last year of the initiative to require the re-introduction of wolves by the end of 2023, these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families,” Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.
“We are continuing to actively monitor this den site while exercising extreme caution so as not to inadvertently jeopardize the potential survival of these pups,” said Libbie Miller, CPW wildlife biologist. “Our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this momentous occasion in Colorado’s incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not bothering them remains a paramount concern.”
Despite the significant distance, staff have the experience and equipment to make affirmative observations. All three observations of pups have been made at dawn or dusk in low light conditions, and featured quite a bit of movement of M2101 “John” and F1084 “Jane” with their small pups during brief observation windows.
As the pups grow larger and spend more time outside of their den, biologists and area staff will have additional opportunities to observe the animals. Staff are working with landowners in the area to implement practices to minimize the potential for conflict.
“It’s incredible that these two adult animals have traveled the distance and overcome the challenges they have to get here, and to now have pups in Colorado,” said Kris Middledorf, area wildlife manager for CPW. “It’s our priority to ensure that they have the chance to thrive, so even as we have exciting news, we want to remind everyone that these animals remain endangered in Colorado.”
As a state endangered species, killing a gray wolf in Colorado results in a fine of $100,000, jail time, and a loss of hunting privileges. Harassment of wildlife is also illegal in the state.
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