The best way to keep Colorado wolves away from Wyoming, and potential death, is to give them a buffer zone, a wildlife official says.
“To help ensure that wolves released in Colorado do not immediately move to a neighboring state and so that they have the best chance at setting up a home range within Colorado’s borders, CPW (Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department) is planning to release wolves a minimum of 60 miles from the northern border with Wyoming,” agency spokesman Joey Livingston told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
That 60-mile buffer also will apply to Colorado’s borders with Utah and New Mexico, he added.
There also will be “a similar buffer, as requested by the tribes, of sovereign tribal lands in southwestern Colorado,” Livingston said.
Colorado already has one established wolf pack in North Park in the northwestern part of the state – which was started by wolves that migrated from Wyoming – and plans to reintroduce more wolves by the end of this year.
Possible Lawsuit Looms
Livingston didn’t comment regarding a lawsuit threatened by the Center for Biological Diversity aimed at stopping the killing of wolves that cross from Colorado into Wyoming – where they may be shot on sight.
The environmental group intends to sue the U.S. Forest Service unless the agency forbids the killing of wolves in the Wyoming section of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, headquartered in Laramie.
Don’t Expect Many Colorado Wolves In Wyoming
Sixty miles isn’t that far for wolves to travel. Young wolves that strike out on their own looking for a mate to start a new pack with are particularly known to cover great distances.
The mated pair that started the North Park pack is thought to have each traveled separately hundreds of miles from the Yellowstone region of Wyoming. And a lone female wolf from Wyoming made it all the way to the Grand Canyon several years ago.
However, it’s not likely wolves from Colorado will try to push into Wyoming in great numbers, Wyoming Game and Fish Department lead wolf biologist Ken Mills has told Cowboy State Daily.
So long as Wyoming’s shoot-on-sight law remains for most of the state, that will apply to wolves that might cross over from Colorado. So, it’s unlikely that Colorado’s anticipated packs will ever be able to establish a significant population in Southeast Wyoming, Mills said.
Lack of habitat also will be a factor, he said.
“An expanding wolf population in Colorado could provide a source for dispersing wolves to move north into Wyoming,” he said. “However, there are no tracts of suitable habitat large enough to consistently sustain resident wolf packs outside the northwest corner of Wyoming.”
Wolf Shootings Might Have Already Happened
Three black sub-adult female wolves were legally killed in Wyoming near the Colorado border in October, and Livingston said it’s likely they came from the North Park pack.
“CPW does not have a way to confirm that the wolves killed in Wyoming were part of the North Park pack. However, based on information that has been provided to us and proximity to Colorado, we believe it may have been part of the North Park pack,” he said. “It is not uncommon for the North Park pack to travel into and out of Wyoming.
“CPW has received no further reports of wolves from the North Park pack being harvested in Wyoming.”