Colorado has just seen its first wild wolf pup birth in nearly 80 years.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department has confirmed a first in nearly 80 years for the Centennial State. Gray wolf pups. The first to be observed in the wild in almost 80 years. Officials confirmed the presence of at least three pups outside Steamboat Springs back in early June.
The pups are the offspring of two wolves that are well-known to researchers. The female wolf, known as F1084, or simply "Jane" migrated to Colorado from Wyoming where she met up with a male wolf known as "M2101," or John in 2019.
CPW staff confirmed the wild birth June 4 through the 8th while running observations on a den site from two miles away. They are continually monitoring the den to see if there are more pups in the area. The news of the new pups comes hot on the heels of a hotly contested and debated ballot measure passed by voters last November.
In short, the initiative, known as Proposition 114, directs CPW to develop a reintroduction and management plan for gray wolves before 2024 on lands west of the Continental Divide. The initiative provides the use of state funds with assisting livestock owners in potential conflicts. Compensation will be paid to owners of domesticated livestock killed by increasing wolf populations.
In Colorado, wolves remain an endangered species and the fines for shooting one are stiff. Jail time and fines of $100,000 are possible for anyone who kills a gray wolf.
"Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado," Governor Jared Polis said in a press release. "With voter passage last year of the initiative to require re-introduction of the wolf by the end of 2023, these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families."
CPW also expressed excitement over the news that wolves have started reproducing in Colorado without human interference. There are no photos of the pups yet, but CPW is hoping to document them soon. CPW said the priority is not disturbing the animals.
"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," CPW area wildlife manager Kris Middledorf said in the release. "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."
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