JACKSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Back-to-back wolf attacks on a ranch in Jackson County left two cows dead and the owner scrambling for answers on what to do next. Colorado Parks and Wildlife passed emergency hazing regulations last week to combat wolf depredation.
This isn’t the first time Don Gittleson has lost cattle to wolf attacks. He’s now lost three cows in less than one month and fears that once the reintroduction process starts, things will get worse.
“It was early in the morning, and I see a pack of wolves coming up out of the creek bed,” Gittleson recalled. “They’re like the biggest dog you’ve ever seen and they’re scary.”
A pack of wolves was spotted on the rancher’s game camera this week. Tuesday morning Gittleson woke up to two of his cows seriously hurt, suffering from severe wounds. One of the cows was injured so bad, that it had to be put down. The next morning, on Wednesday, another cow was dead after being attacked by wolves.
Gittleson said that he and his son have been up all night since, trying to stop the pack from returning. He added that he lost another cow in December and thought they would stay away with fencing.
“I get a lot of questions of what are you going to do now,” Gittleson said. “The answer is I do not know.”
The wolves on his ranch migrated to Colorado naturally from Wyoming in the last few years. Gittleson now fears losing more cattle once the state re-introduces gray wolves in the next two years as part of proposition 114 that voters passed in 2020. It did not get support from him or from most other ranchers.
“People that don’t manage wildlife should stay in their own lane,” Gittleson said. “It’s going to be bad news for everyone pretty much in the cattle industry.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working with Gittleson on the latest attack to prevent the pack from returning but said his ranch has likely become a food source. However, officers are taking steps to keep wolf depredation from happening.
Travis Duncan with CPW said forms of hazing are now allowed in Colorado and confirmed that the commission passed emergency regulations on Jan. 12.
“Those regulations include some commonly accepted hazing techniques like flaggery or fencing, range riders, guard animals, and scare devices as well as other techniques.”
Gittleson will likely get reimbursed by the state for the death of his cows and is currently going through the process. As far as proposition 114, CPW says they’ve completed the public input process and are now writing a wolf management plan.