WALDEN, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is now using GPS collars to track two wolves spotted in North Park.
The male wolf was recaptured two years after his initial capture and the other male wolf collared is presumably one of six pups, according to CPW.
Travis Duncan, with CPW, said these GPS collars have revolutionized wildlife monitoring, giving them a better idea of animal movement patterns and survival.
“That really helps us to gain behavioral data about these animals and will help us understand future behaviors of wolves,” Duncan said.
While the trackers don’t let researchers see where the wolf is in real time, it still gives them a good idea of where they’ve been.
“The GPS technology collects location points at pre-determined intervals,” Duncan said. “It stores them and then it communicates that data via satellite to CPW biologists.”
Ranchers worry about wolves and their livestock
For ranchers like Curt Werner, wolves can be detrimental to their livestock.
“They’re out all night with their cattle,” Werner said, “just to protect them from the wolves.”
Werner said there’s not much they can do.
“All the responsibility is on the back of the ranchers,” Werner said. “They will pay losses for lost livestock, but the burden of proof is going to be on the ranchers.”
With no clear solution in sight and the reintroduction of wolves to start before the end of 2023 according to Proposition 114 — now state statute 33-2-105.8 — Werner said the future for them is unclear.
“It’s something I believe, absolutely, they have to try and do to track them, but again, so far it hasn’t been very effective,” Werner said. “Only time will tell when they start introducing wolves how many of those wolves actually retain their collars.”
Wolf collars supplement field observations
Duncan said these collars provide valuable information, but they also rely on field observations of physical evidence, like wolf prints, which are more easily spotted in the winter months because of the snow.
“The snow on the ground allows the pilot and biologist to track animals. Without that snow, locating a wolf can be extremely challenging. Also, snow will slow a wolf down,” Duncan said.
CPW encourages people to use its wolf sighting form if they see a suspected wolf. This can help CPW fill in the gaps as to wolf activity in the state.
“We’ll be studying their movement. We’ll be taking notes of where there’s potential for conflict and working with ranchers, agricultural producers in the state, really everyone in the state, to minimize conflicts that may occur and to have a successful wolf reintroduction effort.”
Duncan said these two collaring efforts occurred on the known wolves in Jackson County that naturally migrated to the state and are not the result of wolf reintroduction efforts.