HomeOutdoorsNewsColorado Wildlife Officials Struggling to Capture, Collar Wolves as Deadline Approaches: REPORT

Colorado Wildlife Officials Struggling to Capture, Collar Wolves as Deadline Approaches: REPORT

by Emily Morgan
Colorado Wildlife Officials Struggling Capture Collar Wolves Deadline
Photo by: AB Photography

Wildlife officials in Colorado are on a wild goose chase to locate and collar wolves in the state. Officials are currently scouring 1,600 square miles of Colorado’s snow-covered Jackson County. In addition, they only have three weeks to complete the daunting task.

According to reports, the agency must find and collar the animals before the start of the breeding season, which begins in mid-February. They cannot continue the task after that date as it will disturb the wolves. While it may seem like plenty of time to get the job done, officials are dealing with several challenges.

First, none of the three telemetry collars on the current pack have worked correctly in months— making it much harder to study their movements. In addition, only four of the initial eight-member North Park pack are alive. Sadly, three of its pups are thought to have been legally killed in Wyoming. Agents have also not seen the pack’s adult female in over a year. At this time, reports reveal that only one to three wolves have been seen together.

Colorado rancher weighs in on officials’ attempt to collar wolves: ‘They have a lot of obstacles in their path and can only control so many things

Additionally, some of the wolf pack’s territory includes portions of Southern Wyoming. As a result, Colorado officials need permission to capture and collar wolves over state lines. Moreover, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have also been flying over the territory for months. As a result, wolves may have taught themselves to seek cover when hearing the aircraft. To make matters even worse, the pack’s breeding male is all-white, which makes him difficult to spot as snow blankets the area.

“I know they will get a lot of pressure from all sides to get collars on them,” said local rancher Don Gittleson, who has not seen wolves or their tracks on his ranch in over two weeks. “But that will be difficult with the tight window they are looking at. They have a lot of obstacles in their path and can only control so many things.” Gittleson has also lost ten calves and cows due to ongoing attacks from wolves.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials later confirmed the agency received reports of wolf sightings from the past week.

The agency said it is using a plane to look for wolves and is using reports from ranchers to find them. In the agency’s favor is abundant snow in the open sagebrush flats, which slows the wolves.

The agency also said its preference is to capture and put GPS collars on two wolves. However, it added there is no preference for the wolf captured. Yet, they are trying to collar a breeding male or pup(s).

Gittleson, who has allowed officials to capture and collar wolves on his ranch, believes the breeding male should be recollared. He says his path could tell officials if breeding will occur in North Park in the coming months.