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First Confirmed Colorado Wolf Depredation Since Reintroduction

Listen, wolves gon' wolf.

Wyoming WolvesA Gray Wolf treks across Wyoming's Lamar Valley; (photo/Shutterstock)
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Colorado wildlife officials confirmed that a calf had been killed by a wolf. This marks the first recorded since the hotly debated December wolf reintroduction.

The report was made on Tuesday, April 2, and confirmed after an investigation by officials. Wolf tracks were located nearby, and the injuries were consistent with what a typical wolf kill looks like.

“The field investigation found multiple tooth rake marks on the calf’s hindquarters and neck, and hemorrhaging under the hide, consistent with wolf depredation,” said wildlife manager Jeromy Huntington.

The agency couldn’t say for sure whether or not the kill was made by one of the 10 newly introduced wolves or by a remaining member of the North Pack.

Fuel for the Wolf Debate Fire

A gray wolf feeding on an elk carcass
A hungry gray wolf feasts on an elk carcass in Yellowstone National Park; (photo/Shutterstock)

It’s hard to believe this is the first case of wolf depredation on a domestic animal since the reintroduction. Still, it is the first officially recorded case, which is likely to stir emotions on both sides of the debate.

The state of Colorado will compensate the rancher for the market value of the lost calf. Many ranchers just don’t feel that’s the answer.

“The incident, which resulted in the loss of livestock, underscores the ongoing challenges faced by ranchers in managing conflicts between livestock and wildlife,” the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association said in a statement Wednesday. “Wolf presence presents significant challenges for ranchers striving to maintain the health and well-being of their livestock.”

Colorado’s Predators Take Center Stage

A mountain lion standing on a rock

Between the wolf reintroduction and the impending ballot initiative to ban mountain lion hunting in Colorado, the state’s big predators just can’t seem to stay out of the news.

Regardless of which side of these topics you stand on, the reality is this: apex predators will eat. Increasing the population of both of these animals could cause a drastic increase in the predation of domestic animals. As human populations grow and resources for space dwindle, negative human-wildlife interactions are sure to increase.

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