Colorado Has A New Wolf Pup, Nobody Knows Yet If There’s A Whole Litter

Roughly six months after being reintroduced to Colorado, wolves have produced at least one confirmed pup. Although it is highly likely the pup is part of a larger litter, Colorado officials won't confirm any more.

Mark Heinz

June 23, 20245 min read

One of five wolves reintroduced to northern Colorado in December 2023.
One of five wolves reintroduced to northern Colorado in December 2023. (Jerry Neal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

A wolf pup just born in Colorado is getting mixed reactions to its presence and the presence of its kind.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW) announced late last week that it had confirmed at least one new wolf pup born to a breeding pair of wolves in Grand County, Colorado.

The agency didn’t offer any further details regarding the exact location of the wolves’ den, where an entire litter of new pups could be. Whether it’s just the one pup or a whole litter hasn’t been confirmed.

Wyoming wildlife advocate Kristin Combs told Cowboy State Daily she thinks that’s good news.

But she added that more wolves will inevitably make the tensions over the reintroduction of wolves to Colorado more complicated. And it’s only a matter of time before more wolves start crossing the state line between Wyoming and Colorado.

“Personally, I have mixed emotions about it,” Kristin Combs, the executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates (WWA), told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “There’s already been conflicts with (the Colorado wolves).”

Colorado resident John Michael Williams agreed that reactions to the news about wolf pup have been split between “jubilation” and anger or disappointment.

Williams runs the hugely popular Colorado Wolf Tracker Facebook group, which has become a clearinghouse for news and frequently clashing opinions about wolves in the Centennial State.

Though the news of wolves having offspring wasn’t unexpected, many of the Colorado ranchers he corresponds with aren’t happy about it, he told Cowboy State Daily.

By the end of this past week, as many as 25 cattle might have been killed by wolves in Colorado. And 11 of the cattle killed were on the Gittleson Ranch in North Park just a dozen miles or so from the Wyoming state line.

Biology And Culture

From the WWA’s point of view, wolves are important to a healthy and balanced ecosystem, Combs said. So purely in terms of wildlife biology, it’s good to hear that the Colorado wolves have settled in and started to breed.

From a social or cultural standpoint, it’s a mixed bag, she said.

Combs acknowledged that approval of Colorado’s wolf reintroduction was “split at right about 50/50.” That means reactions to whether a possible new littler of wolf pups are just as likely to be negative as they are to be positive.

The wolf reintroduction was authorized by Colorado’s Proposition 114. It barely squeaked by voters Nov. 3, 2020, by a margin of 50.91% to 49.09%.

“Some people have such a strong identity, ‘I don’t like wolves, and they’re going to hurt my livelihood,’ and it could take generations to change that,” she said.

Even so, Combs says she doesn’t buy the argument that Colorado is too crowded to have a healthy wolf population.

“There’s a lot of great wolf habitat down there, especially in the western part of the state,” she said.

What’s more, chronic wasting disease has been detected among Colorado’s massive elk herds. And wolves could help slow the spread of the disease among the state’s estimated 280,000 elk by killing sickened animals, Combs said.

One of five wolves reintroduced to northern Colorado in December 2023.
One of five wolves reintroduced to northern Colorado in December 2023. (Jerry Neal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

It Took Years To Bring Wolves Back

Colorado already had wolves before the reintroduction program started. The North Park pack was formed when a female wolf from Wyoming appeared on the Gittleson Ranch in 2019, followed by a male the next year.

Those two had a litter of pups in 2021. But by about 2023, that pack had effectively ceased to exist. Some of its members are thought to have crossed back over into Wyoming and been shot by hunters.

After Proposition 114 passed in 2020, it still took more than three years to get reintroduced wolves’ paws on the ground in Colorado.

Wyoming flatly refused to supply any wolves for Colorado’s reintroduction program as did Idaho and Montana.

Finally, Oregon agreed to provide 10 wolves. In December 2023, they were captured in Oregon, transported to Colorado, and released at an undisclosed location in Grand County.

Nobody Knows How Many Pups

It was some of those wolves from Oregon that paired up and bred, according to CPW.

One wolf pup was confirmed, and it’s likely more were born.

“There are no photos or videos at this time (of the wolf pup),” CPW stated.

“Although biologists were only able to confirm one pup at this time, it is possible that other pups may be present, as wolf litters commonly consist of four to six pups,” the agency reported. “CPW staff will continue to monitor the animals to determine how many pups have been born to the litter.”

‘Be Safe, Dear Wolf Pup!’

Williams said that a statement posted on Facebook by Colorado first gentleman Marlon Reis perfectly encapsulates the sentiments of those who are happy about the arrival of the pup (or pups).

“Be safe, dear Wolf Pup! Wishing you good health, peace, and quite for your mom, dad and siblings. We’re so glad you’re here and lots of good humans are rooting for you!” Reis posted.

On the other hand, “Anybody who does not favors them and didn’t want them is not happy,” Williams said.

This time of year, Grand County is crowded with campers and outdoor recreationalists, Coloradans and tourists, he said.

He hopes that the crowds and the wolves avoid each other.

“Particularly if somebody has an off-leash dog and they go near the wolf den, that could end badly,” he said. “I hope that’s not how they find the wolf den.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter