Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Have Wolves Returned to Colorado?

Photo: Rebecca Bose

Although Colorado has not been home for wolves since they were exterminated by federally-funded bounties in the 1940s, a small number of lone wolves have wandered into the state over the past few years (read WCC post here). These lone travelers got everyone talking and now Colorado wolves are in the headlines again. The High Country News is reporting that wolves could be quietly living in Colorado and a DNA test on some scat samples (fecal samples) could prove it!

To read more from The High Country News, please click "Here".



kelly said...

I live in Colorado. How wonderful it would be to have wolves here.

Anonymous said...

Exciting news. May wolves return to many of their ancestral homes in our lifetimes.

Are those two wolves standing together in the photograph? If it's one canid, the hind dewclaws indicate dog genes are present:


Maggie said...

Hi Anonymous,
The photo shows feet belonging to a pair of wolves, not just a single wolf. Thanks so much for sharing the article about the dewclaws, very interesting! As for wolves in CO, I guess we'll have to see what happens. It's pretty exciting!

Michael said...

A big thanks, Maggie and Rebecca, for the link to High Country News in the post.
The website of this great newspaper contained a lot of interesting articles, informations and links, e.g. the interview with Michael Soule. On his website I found the link to the Wildlands Network - a great plan.

ANONYMous refers to a very important (for me the only) problem of wandering (lone) wolves: the danger of hybridization e.g. with dogs. This is particularly a problem in Southern (and Eastern?) Europe, where are freely running or wild dogs in great number. I don't know how it is in the States or Canada. I assume in Mexico it's like in Southern Europe.

I understand the Red Wolf as an endangered species because of the really big danger of hybridization with coyotes. After a (how long?) while only mixed and coyote genes would exist, if we would do nothing.
Maybe Red Wolves are more Coyotes than Wolves?

Return to the Grey Wolf. For wolves of Yellowstone moving to south (Colorado/Utah) it will be difficult to find partners for building new packs, if not males and females of different packs go on search at the same time. If some are successful, one day their offspring will travel into New Mexico or Arizona, provided that a too wide desert doesn't hinder. Then we would get another kind of "hybridization" - between Grey Wolves. It will start again a discussion about the distinction of Grey Wolf subspecies. Wildlands Network works for a corridor along the Rockies from Canada to Mexico. 200 years before such a (more expanded!) "corridor" was existing and of course the wolves were wandering. At least around the borders of the supposed circulation areas the subspecies will be mixed, e.g. Mexican Wolf with Plains Wolf.

Do we hope the wandering wolves in Colorado don't meet dogs, perhaps they will travel 500 miles additionally until New Mexico, if they doesn't find mates on the way. I don't believe in the hybridization of these Grey Wolves with Coyotes.

In Germany wild dogs are shooting down from hunters normally; for some it's a good opportunity to shoot (strictly protected!) wolves or neighbor's dog saying "I thought it's a poaching dog". I hope in the States wild dogs are shooting down too because they are dangerous e.g. for the livestock more than wolves. In Germany doesn't exist an expensive management plan for the fully protected wolves, only a little scientific observation of the wolf packs. If wolves kill a livestock member (mostly a sheep) the owner will get money, but in the future he must do more for protecting his herd. In Germany most hunting-grounds are leased to (usually rich) persons. They must pay to a farmer, if e.g. "their" wild boars "visit" a field of the farmer. We need wolves because most hunters don't shoot enough ungulates - they want to get trophies first instead of meat or leather.