Between June 4-8, a state biologist and wildlife manager independently reported visual confirmation that “John” and “Jane”, known collored wolves, were spotted with three pups.
Observations were made at a distance from the den site so as not to interfere with the pack.
It is not known if the three cubs sighted are the only descendants. Litters usually consist of four to six puppies.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We welcome this historic den and new wolf family to Colorado.”
Coloradans voted narrowly last year in favor of a law to reintroduce the predator by 2023.
A quarter of a million wolves once roamed from coast to coast before European settlers embarked on eradication campaigns by shooting, trapping and poisoning that lasted until the 20th century.
Today, there are an estimated 6,000 gray wolves in the lower 48 states, up from roughly 1,000 remaining before the United States granted them protection under the Endangered Species Act in the late 1990s. 1970.
Some individual wolves crossed into Colorado from Yellowstone National Park, where they were reintroduced in the 1990s, but it was not clear that a viable, self-sustaining population existed in the state.
“We continue to actively monitor this den site while exercising extreme caution not to inadvertently endanger the potential survival of these cubs,” said Libbie Miller, a state 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 disturbing them remains a primary concern.”
Despite the good news from Colorado, wildlife groups remain deeply concerned about the future of the species after the administration of former President Donald Trump lifted federal protections last year, exposing wolves in several states to hunting. trophies and extermination by the ranchers.
In March, licensed hunters in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin exceeded their quota and killed 216 wolves over the course of three days.
The number was nearly double the allocation and roughly 20 percent of the state’s total population.
In May, the Idaho governor signed a bill that allows contractors to kill up to 90 percent of the state’s 1,500 wolves, including shooting them from helicopters or chasing them with snowmobiles or ATVs.
Research has confirmed the ecological importance of the key predator in reducing the number of elk herds that browse excessively to prevent habitat destruction. Wolves also help with the creation of wetlands by keeping beavers at bay.
An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month found that wolves reduced the frequency of car-deer collisions by a quarter in Wisconsin.
Most of the reduction was not due to a decline in the deer population, but rather to increasing nervousness by deer around roads that wolves often use as travel corridors, according to the newspaper.