HomeOutdoorsNewsColorado Wolves Kill Two Dogs Within Four Miles

Colorado Wolves Kill Two Dogs Within Four Miles

by Jon D. B.
gray wolf canis lupus
Gray wolf (Canis lupus) (Photo by Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

“We truly did not expect that they would show up at our house to come after our dogs,” Colorado rancher Donna Schultz laments of the wolves.

Schultz’ dog, Cisco, was as much a part of the family as he was the ranch work. A “sweet dog” that became “all business” when cow dogging, he was 7-years-old and thriving. But after her husband called their dogs back to the house on Monday, Cisco didn’t return. Instead, Mr. Schultz found his body 30 yards from the house. Cisco had been killed by gray wolves.

“We were both so distraught. It was pretty tough,” Donna tells local 9 NEWS in the aftermath. “He’s not just a working dog but part of our family. We loved the dog, dearly. It’s been really hard the last few days to be without him.”

This wasn’t the first death by Colorado wolves on the Schultz’s ranch. They’ve been aware of the wild canines for weeks now after one killed an antelope on their property last month. But the predators coming so close to the house, then killing one of their dogs? Donna is still in disbelief. “We thought, if anything, they were going to be in the cattle,” she tells the outlet.

The Schultz notified Colorado wildlife officials, who wound then respond to another wolf-on-dog attack the next day. That dog was alive when found, but her injuries were so severe that she had to be euthanized, CPW spokesman Travis Duncan confirms for 9 NEWS.

As Wolves Return to Colorado, Residents Hands Remain Tied

An extirpated species (locally extinct in a historic habitat) for the last century, wolves have just returned to Colorado in the last few years. In 2019, a pack took up residence in CO’s northwest corner, and they’ve stuck around.

This is good news for wolves, and the conservationists looking to restore Colorado wilds to their natural conditions. Wolves are a keystone species that keep potentially-destructive prey animals like deer and rodents in check, and help shape entire ecosystems as a result. But this is not good news for ranchers and pet owners, as these back-to-back losses of beloved dogs reiterate.

As humans are responsible for eradicating historic populations in the state, Colorado law protects wolves with hefty penalties (including fines and jail time). This – alongside similar laws in other states – is meant to even the odds and allow for the keystone species to avoid total extinction. Yet it leaves the hands of ranchers like the Schultz tied up and unable to defend themselves, their pets and livestock from attacks.

‘We don’t want to go hunting wolves, but we have to be able to protect our animals’

“It would be nice if we were able to kill a wolf if they are on us, in our cattle or attacking an animal. We need a tool like that,” Donna Schultz says. “We don’t want to go hunting wolves, but we have to be able to protect our animals.”

Both dogs were killed in the North Park area of Jackson County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) confirms. CPW notes both tracks and GPS collar data locating wolves in the area, cementing causality.

Jackson County is no stranger to wolf altercations. After the initial pack migrated there in 2019, they settled down and bred six pups in 2021 – establishing the first native population in decades. In the time since, multiple livestock – and now dog – deaths have occurred. Jan. 2022 would see the first deaths of livestock by wolves in the state in over 70 years.

Yet Colorado’s Proposition 114 continues to move toward the artificial reintroduction of wolves to the state. Colorado voters approved Prop 114 in November 2020, which requires CPW to begin steps toward reintroduction of gray wolves west of the Continental Divide. They are to do so by Dec. 31, 2023. In the meantime, public debate rages on.