By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A wolf from Wyoming has given birth to Colorado’s first litter of pups since the 1940s.
The female wolf, F1084, was originally part of Wyoming’s Snake River wolf pack, but traveled to Jackson County, Colorado, (which sits close to Laramie) in 2019. She was originally thought to be male, but has actually been identified as a female and has been spotted traveling with a male in recent months.
A Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist and CPW district wildlife manager each reported visual sightings of multiple pups with the female and male, M2101, wolves.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said. “With voter passage last year of the initiative to require re-introduction of the wolf by the end of 2023, these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families.”
In the last week, CPW staff conducted three separate observations of the den site from a safe distance approximately two miles away. Each of the three sightings included both M2101 “John” and F1084 “Jane”, collared wolves known to reside in the state, along with their three pups. While three pups have been observed over the past week, it is not yet confirmed that these are the only pups in the litter.
A typical wolf litter consists of four to six pups.
“We are continuing to actively monitor this den site while exercising extreme caution so as not to inadvertently jeopardize the potential survival of these pups,” said Libbie Miller, CPW 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 bothering them remains a paramount concern.”
All three observations of pups have been made at dawn or dusk in low-light conditions and featured quite a bit of movement of M2101 and F1084 with the small pups during brief observation windows.
As the pups grow larger and spend more time outside of the den, biologists and area staff will have additional opportunities to observe the animals. Staff are working with landowners in the area to implement practices to minimize the potential for conflict.
“It’s incredible that these two adult animals have traveled the distance and overcome the challenges they have to get here, and to now have pups in Colorado,” said Kris Middledorf, area wildlife manager for CPW. “It’s our priority to ensure that they have the chance to thrive, so even as we have exciting news, we want to remind everyone that these animals remain endangered in Colorado.”
As an endangered species, killing a gray wolf in Colorado results in a fine of $100,000, jail time and a loss of hunting privileges. Harassment of wildlife is also illegal in the state.