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Wolf reintroduction debate continues following reported attacks on livestock

Wolves
Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 09:54:54-05

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A new Colorado law that will allow the state to re-introduce 250 wolves back into the wild hasn't even taken effect yet, but it's already generating a lot of discussions.

That's especially true since a rancher in northwestern Colorado lost a calf to a wolf kill.

The rancher whose calf was killed by a wolf says those tools aren't enough to protect his animals.

"So we can use rubber buck shots or rubber bullets on the wolves so that stuff is effective to about maybe 30 yards, the closest I've ever been to a wolf in daylight is 300 yards," explains rancher Don Gittleson.

Colorado has an existing depredation reimbursement fund that can be used for wolf depredation, and compensation is required by statute.

Officials are also looking into whether two other cattle were attacked by wolves.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it received a report of six wolves present on a ranch in Jackson County in mid-January. District wildlife managers discovered two injured cows on the property in North Park.

They conducted a field investigation and found the wounds on the cows were consistent with wolf depredation and that scat was in the immediate vicinity of the injured cows.

Tuesday's attack, which was first reported by Steamboat Radio, happened on the same ranch as a previous incident when a 500-pound purebred replacement heifer was eaten by a wolf pack in December.

Jackson County is home to a confirmed wolf pack, which CPW has said previously is from the natural migration of wolves into the state and not as a result of mandated wolf reintroduction efforts from Proposition 114.

Gray Wolves remain a state endangered species, and wolves may not be taken for any reason other than self-defense. Illegal take of a wolf may result in a combination of penalties, including fines of up to $100,000, a year of jail time and a lifetime loss of hunting license privileges.

News 5 will be taking a Deep Dive this week into the state's wolf reintroduction and how it's impacting Coloradans.

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