The state’s first wolf pups in nearly 80 years have been born in northern Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday.
CPW said multiple pups were spotted three times between Friday and Tuesday by CPW staff. The pups were seen with a male adult wolf and female adult wolf that were identified as a breeding pair in late May.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado,” said Gov. Jared Polis in a release. “These pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families.”
Three pups have been spotted so far; however, officials believe there could be more because wolves typically have four to six pups per litter, according to CPW.
This comes as Colorado voted in November to reintroduce gray wolves to the state by the end of 2023. Wolves are considered an endangered species in Colorado, having been eradicated from the state decades ago.
Approximately 6,000 gray wolves exist in the continental United States, with up to 70,000 living in Canada and Alaska. It has been seven decades since a self-sustaining population of gray wolves was confirmed to exist in Colorado.
“It’s incredible that these two adult animals have traveled the distance and overcome the challenges they have to get here, and to now have pups in Colorado,” said Kris Middledorf, CPW wildlife manager. “It’s our priority to ensure that they have the chance to thrive.”
CPW reminds residents that gray wolves are illegal to hunt in Colorado. Killing a gray wolf results in a fine of up to $100,000, jail time and a loss of hunting privileges. Harassing the wolves is also illegal.
CPW staff are continuing to monitor the den site from approximately two miles away, to observe and protect the pups.
“Our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this momentous occasion in Colorado's incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not bothering them remains a paramount concern,” said Libbie Miller, CPW wildlife biologist.
As the pups grow larger, they will be spending more time outside of the den, according to CPW. To prepare, staff are working with landowners in the area to implement practices to minimize the potential for conflict.