PROMO 64J1 Animal - Gray Wolf - USFWS

Groups celebrate upcoming Colorado gray wolf reintroduction

Gray Wolf. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Chance Dorland

(Colorado News Connection) After nearly a century, gray wolves are coming back to the state of Colorado.

In 2020, voters approved Proposition 114, calling on Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore native gray wolves to their historic habitat in the Centennial State.

Dillon Hanson-Ahumada, Southern Rockies field representative for the Endangered Species Coalition, said the coalition is collaborating on multiple events and projects in Denver this "June Wolf Month," to celebrate.

"This is a time for Coloradans to come, get out and about and learn about wolves and the importance of having wolves back in the mountains of Colorado through these unique events that are focused on connecting art and culture with conservation," he said.

Not everyone is a fan of reintroducing wolves. Ranchers worry they could lose livestock as a result. But after a February court order this year, gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states and Mexico - except for the Northern Rocky Mountain population - are now protected under the Endangered Species Act. Wolves are labeled as "threatened" in Minnesota and "endangered" in the remaining states, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hanson-Ahumada said the desire for wolf pelts as fur and other factors robbed Colorado of its native wolf population.

"Due to excessive hunting and trapping," he said, "the population declined, as well as habitat fragmentation and just basically human encroachment, wolves disappeared from the state."

A full listing of "wolf month" events, including even a brewery passport program, is online at Hanson-Ahumada said he thinks Coloradans should be proud of the reintroduction the state is planning for gray wolves in 2023.

"The restoration of this iconic animal to the region is a remarkable conservation achievement," he said, "and Coloradans should be happy and take pride in this happening in their state."

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has reported that the plan being developed under Proposition 114 will be determined with partnering state and federal agencies to select which nearby wolf packs will be introduced to Colorado.