UNITED STATES NEWS

Colorado releases first 5 wolves in reintroduction plan approved by voters to chagrin of ranchers

Dec 18, 2023, 5:08 PM

A gray wolf is seen in a trail camera image on the Sherman Creek Ranch, March 26, 2023, near Walden...

A gray wolf is seen in a trail camera image on the Sherman Creek Ranch, March 26, 2023, near Walden, Colorado. As state officials prepare to reintroduce wolves in western Colorado, a small number of the animals already have wandered in from Wyoming. (Don Gittleson via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Don Gittleson via AP)

GRAND COUNTY, Colorado (AP) — Wildlife officials released five gray wolves into a remote forest in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on Monday to kick off a voter-approved reintroduction program that was embraced in the state’s mostly Democratic urban corridor but staunchly opposed in conservative rural areas where ranchers worry about attacks on livestock.

The wolves were set free from crates in a Grand County location that state officials kept undisclosed to protect the predators.

It marked the start of the most ambitious wolf reintroduction effort in the U.S. in almost three decades and a sharp departure from aggressive efforts by Republican-led states to cull wolf packs. A judge on Friday night had denied a request from the state’s cattle industry for a temporary delay to the release.

About 45 people watched as the first two wolves — 1-year-old male and female siblings with gray fur mixed with black and brown patches — were set free. The male bolted up the golden grass, running partially sideways to keep an eye on everyone behind, then turning left into the trees.

The crowd watched in awed silence, then some hugged each other and low murmurs started up.

When the latch on the second crate flipped, the wolf didn’t budge. Everyone waited as Gov. Jared Polis peeked into the cage.

After roughly 30 seconds, those around the crates stepped back, giving the wolf space. The female slowly rose inside the crate then bounded up a snowy divot in the dirt road.

When she reached the tree line, she stopped and turned to look back at her silent audience for a moment, then disappeared into an aspen grove, its branches barren.

The other three wolves released were another pair of 1-year-old male and female siblings, as well a 2-year-old male. The wolves were all caught in Oregon on Sunday.

When the final crate opened, the 2-year-old male with a black coat immediately darted out, making a sharp right past onlookers and dashing into the trees. He didn’t look back once.

When it all ended, a small round of applause broke out.

Colorado officials anticipate releasing 30 to 50 wolves within the next five years in hopes the program starts to fill in one of the last remaining major gaps in the western U.S. for the species. Gray wolves historically ranged from northern Canada to the desert southwest.

The carnivores’ planned release in Colorado, voted for in a 2020 ballot measure, has sharpened divides between rural and urban residents. City and suburb dwellers largely voted to reintroduce the apex predators into the rural areas where prey can include livestock that help drive local economies and big game such as elk that are prized by hunters.

The reintroduction, starting with the release of up to 10 wolves in coming months, emerged as a political wedge issue when GOP-dominated Wyoming, Idaho and Montana refused to share their wolves for the effort. Colorado officials ultimately turned to another Democratic state — Oregon — to secure wolves.

Excited wildlife advocates have started a wolf-naming contest, but ranchers in the Rocky Mountains where the releases will occur are anxious. They’ve seen glimpses of what the future could hold as a handful of wolves that wandered down from Wyoming over the past two years killed livestock.

The fear is such attacks will worsen, adding to a spate of perceived assaults on western Colorado’s rural communities as the state’s liberal leaders embrace clean energy and tourism, eclipsing economic mainstays such as fossil fuel extraction and agriculture.

To allay livestock industry fears, ranchers who lose livestock or herding and guard animals to wolf attacks will be paid fair market value, up to $15,000 per animal.

Hunting groups also have raised concerns that wolves will reduce the size of elk herds and other big game animals that the predators eat.

Meanwhile, Colorado residents who backed the reintroduction are going to have to get used to wildlife agents killing wolves that prey on livestock.

Some wolves were already killed when they crossed from Colorado into Wyoming, which has a “predatory” zone for wolves covering most of the state in which they can be shot on sight.

United States News

FILE - Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón speaks during a news conference Feb. 22,...

Associated Press

Los Angeles County district attorney seeks reelection in contest focused on feeling of public safety

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County voters are set to decide next month if embattled District Attorney George Gascón will remain the head of the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office in a race centered on perceptions of public safety. Gascón, who was elected in 2020 on a criminal justice platform alongside a wave of progressive […]

3 hours ago

In combo of undated selfie images provided courtesy of the Dime Doe family, show Dime Doe, a Black ...

Associated Press

A love affair unraveled before a Black transgender woman was fatally shot in rural South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Black transgender woman and the guy she was secretly dating had just been pulled over in rural South Carolina. Dime Doe, the driver, was worried. She already had points against her license and didn’t want another ticket to stop her from getting behind the wheel. Daqua Lameek Ritter, whom she […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Remains found over 50 years ago identified through DNA technology as Oregon teen

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The remains of a teenager found more than 50 years ago have been identified through advanced DNA technology as a young woman who went missing from Portland, Oregon State Police said. The remains are that of Sandra Young, a high school student who disappeared in 1968 or 1969, police said Thursday […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

California man arrested for making threats against election official in Arizona after 2022 vote

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of leaving threatening messages on the personal cellphone of an Arizona election worker he accused of rigging the 2022 election results, federal prosecutors said. The 52-year-old was charged with one count of communicating an interstate threat and will make an initial court […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Two more candidates file papers to run for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two more candidates filed paperwork Thursday to appear on Pennsylvania’s primary ballots for U.S. Senate as Democratic Sen. Bob Casey runs for a fourth term and Democrats try to maintain a majority in the narrowly divided chamber. Brandi Tomasetti, a Republican from Lancaster County, and William Parker, a Democrat from Allegheny […]

6 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Colorado releases first 5 wolves in reintroduction plan approved by voters to chagrin of ranchers