Colorado Moves To Reintroduce Wolverines

by Quentin Blount
Photo by Getty Images

Outsiders, can we expect to see the wolverine back in the state of Colorado? According to the Parks and Wildlife Department, it seems likely.

It’s crazy to think that the last time a wolverine was spotted in Colorado was back in June of 2009. It’s been nearly 13 years since then. Before that, the last confirmed sighting in the state was in 1919. Dozens of surveys have been carried out over the years that yielded no evidence of wolverines.

But things could soon be changing according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Travis Duncan.

“We will be working with a wolverine expert who is going to take on updating and providing greater detail on a wolverine restoration and management plan,” Duncan told The Colorado Sun. “The contract isn’t in place yet, but we hope to be able to say more on this soon.”

It goes without saying that wolverines are pretty unusual animals. Not only are they extremely rare, but they are also just flat-out odd. Males lay claim to ranges of land that span hundreds of miles. And somehow, they know not to invade each other’s home area. As a result, the young males often roam for hundreds of miles in search of unclaimed territory.

Jeff Copeland is a 20-year wolverine researcher with the Wolverine Foundation. He told the outlet that it’s hard to know why the wolverines behave this way.

“You got me,” he said. “They develop a wanderlust about reproduction maturity, around two years of age, and they just end up in the darndest places.”

Colorado Dusting Off 2010 Plan to Reintroduce the Wolverine

You may recall that wildlife groups pushed hard for wolverines to be reintroduced in Colorado back in 2010. Well, that led to the state drafting up a plan. Even though it never worked out, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department now has something to go by.

“We are at that preliminary stage of dusting off the process from 2010 and working through what needs revision, updates, etc. before anything more formal is underway,” said CPW spokeswoman Rebecca Farrell.

Meanwhile, Copeland isn’t exactly a fan of reintroduction. He explained that relocating animals usually results in about half of them dying. That’s not so much of a big deal when you’re dealing with common animals like elk, deer, and sheep. It’s a different story, though, in terms of wolverines.

“When you are dealing with a very rare animal like a wolverine, there is no room for error and there are not any surplus animals anywhere in the world.”

In addition, Copeland notes that wolverines have been working to reoccupy their range across the Southern Rockies and have been doing so for decades.

“They are doing it on their own. It’s a historic moment. Why don’t we just watch it happen?” Copeland said. “They will reoccupy Colorado and they will be in Utah and there is every reason to believe they will survive on their own. So why spend millions of dollars and kill a dozen wolverines just because we want them there now? It may take 40, 50 years, but so what?”