Gray wolf spotted in North Park, captured and collared for tracking to study “travel patterns”

Colorado wildlife officials spotted a new 4-year-old male wolf near North Park and had contractors with a helicopter capture it in a net and tranquilize it, then when the wolf wriggled loose chased it over the border to Wyoming, where the contractors subdued it and affixed a tracking collar.

This 110-pound gray wolf, called M2101, recently was observed by state staffers from the air while roaming in Colorado with another lone male wolf, M1084 of the Snake River pack in Wyoming, which entered Colorado in 2019.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials on Tuesday afternoon confirmed the capture on Monday and issued a statement saying state crews will use signals from the GPS collar “to learn about the travel patterns of wolves that are coming into the state.”

An older VHF collar on M1084 allowed locating that wolf but the more advanced GPS collar, according to CPW director Dan Prenzlow’s statement, “will allow us to get a much better understanding of the animal’s movement, range and behaviors.”

Colorado voters in November 2020 narrowly passed a ballot measure directing Colorado parks and wildlife commissioners to make a plan and reintroduce wolves on public land in western Colorado. State wildlife officials must reintroduce an undetermined number of gray wolves, enough to ensure wolf survival, by the end of 2023 on former habitat west of the Continental Divide.

Last year, wildlife officials confirmed the presence of a small pack of wolves in northwestern Colorado and Gov. Jared Polis publicly declared wolves are welcome back in the state.

State officials have declined to discuss voters’ directive — the first time a state’s voters have ordered their government to re-introduce an imperiled species.

Cattle ranchers, elk hunters, farmers and others, mostly in rural areas, have opposed wolf reintroduction as bad policy driven by urban majorities along Colorado’s Front Range.

Wolf supporters have been celebrating what they see as a shift away from wildlife management that prioritizes hunting and agricultural interests toward a holistic re-balancing of ecosystems — by restoring a predator.

This week during the collaring, contactors examined the wolf and it appears to be in good health, according to the CPW statement.

Gray wolves are listed in Colorado as a state endangered species and may not be killed for any reason other than self-defense, state officials said. Penalties include fines, jail time and a loss of hunting license privileges.

Shortly before the vote on wolf reintroduction in Colorado, federal officials lifted national endangered species protection for gray wolves. This throws wolves’ fate increasingly to state wildlife managers, whose plans typically have allowed hunting of wolves where sustainable and “removal” where wolves threaten livestock.

Source: Read Full Article