WYOMING – By the end of 2023, Colorado plans to restore a gray wolf population to the state. According to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA), the protection afforded to wolves under Colorado management has the potential to extend a stronger wolf presence to Wyoming.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife have drafted a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves into an area of the state roughly surrounding the Gunnison/Aspen/Vail region, after an in-depth study determined the most ecological and socially suitable habitat. There will be an initial 60 mile barrier between the wolf reintroduction zone and the state’s border with Wyoming to mitigate immediate migration.
Colorado’s primary management tools will come from non-lethal methods, which according to the drafted plan include “changes in livestock husbandry practices, range riders and herders, hazing of wolves, scare tactics and other attempts to modify wolf behavior.”
The gray wolf is currently listed as an endangered species in Colorado, meaning they may not be killed for any reason except self-defense. This contrasts with Wyoming state law that views wolves as predators that may be taken year-round with no license required unless in a protected zone like a national park or the trophy game zone outside Yellowstone where a permit is required.
“Because other states may have dramatically different approaches to management of these animals, it could have significant impacts on the presence of these wolves in our state,” the WDA said about the Colorado wolf restoration and management plan in an article for upcoming National Agriculture Day.
According to the WDA, gray wolves pose a substantial and critical threat to livestock in Wyoming, one of the largest and most important state industries. It’s also important to note that a healthy wolf population is crucial to creating resilient elk herds and supporting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.