DENVER – It’s official: Wolves are back in Colorado. Recent sightings have been confirmed after wildlife officers saw a pack over the weekend. Gov. Jared Polis says he’s honored to welcome the animals back to Colorado. However, many ranchers say they need to go.
The confirmed pack is the first to call Colorado home since the 1930s, according to the Polis administration. The gray wolves were seen in far northwest Colorado.
“We’re pretty convinced that they’re at least making themselves somewhat at home in that spot,” said Rebecca Ferrell with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Remains of another animal were reported Saturday in Moffat County, leading wildlife officers to investigate.
“Approximately two miles away from the site … [officers] put binoculars on what appears to be five to six wolves,” Ferrell said.
The wolves are unwelcome visitors for rancher George Raftopoulos, who is related to FOX31’s Aristea Brady.
“Those wolves are down in our horse pasture behind our cabin,” Raftopoulos said. “I feel it’s very dangerous to the livelihood of the cattle business and to the livelihood of the outfitting business and rural economies as well.”
Those in favor of wolves in Colorado say they help balance the ecosystem.
The federal government warns people who harm wolves will face prosecution. The animals are protected as an endangered species.
“The only possible reason that you could have would be in a self-defense situation, and that would certainly be heavily investigated,” Ferrell said.
Colorado is still poised to ask voters to decide if wolves should be reintroduced to the state on a larger scale. That initiative is expected to be on the November ballot.