Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Here's where Colorado's reintroduced wolves are most likely to be released

 The joke by state wildlife officials surrounding the contentious issue of where in Colorado wolves will be released is as much to ease tension among ranchers as it is based on fact: Where wolves are released is not where wolves will end up.

Reintroductions in the northern Rocky Mountains in the mid-1990s proved that, with wolves wandering an average of 50 miles from their release sites.

It's that fact wildlife officials are trying to impress upon ranchers to ease one of their biggest concerns as the clock ticks on wolves being reintroduced into areas west of the Continental Divide by the end of this year.

"CPW (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) has joked you should want them to be released on your property,'' said Renee Deal, a member of the agency's wolf Stakeholder Advisory Group and fourth-generation rancher near Somerset. "But I'm not sure how you can look at where they want to release wolves and not worry about it.''

Deal said she is not surprised that her family's sheep ranch is located near where the state wildlife agency will likely make its initial wolf release next winter. The ranch is located on the edge of an oval identified by the agency as its preferred release area. That oval roughly includes the rugged mountains and lush valleys between Rifle, Aspen, Silverthorne and Kremmling. A secondary oval is located directly south of the preferred oval.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said when unveiling its draft wolf recovery plan in December that release sites likely will focus on state and private land where there are willing owners...more

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