Thu. Apr 18th, 2024
alert-–-wyoming-hunters-stand-guard-at-the-border-with-colorado-as-pack-of-recently-released-wolves-threaten-to-cross-state-lines-and-wreak-havoc-on-their-ranchesAlert – Wyoming hunters stand guard at the border with Colorado as pack of recently-released wolves threaten to cross state lines and wreak havoc on their ranches

A pack of recently-released wolves are making their way towards state lines and edging closer to the Wyoming border. 

Two wolves are confirmed to have recently entered Moffat County, located less than 50 miles away from the Wyoming border, where killing wolves is legal year-round. 

John Michael Williams, a Colorado resident who administers a ‘Colorado Wolf Tracker’ Facebook page estimated that the duo will potentially cross the border in the next four to six weeks.

‘If I had a crystal ball, what do I think? I think that sometime within the next four to six weeks, we’ll have one cross, or maybe a couple cross over. 

‘And I think we’ll see some of them getting shot,’ Williams told Cowboys State Daily. 

Wyoming ranchers have previously said they are prepared to use all means necessary to defend their livestock if any of the wolves cross the border. 

By stepping over the border line, a wolf enters Wyoming’s 53 million-acre ‘predator zone’ – encompassing roughly 85 percent of the state – and goes from a ‘State Endangered’ animal to one that can be shot on sight.

This allows the ranchers to shoot or trap the wolves at any time, with no license required and no bag limits. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife had released 10 endangered gray wolves fitted with a GPS satellite collar into a remote forest in Colorado's Rocky Mountains back in December 2023

Colorado Parks and Wildlife had released 10 endangered gray wolves fitted with a GPS satellite collar into a remote forest in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains back in December 2023 

Wyoming ranchers have previously said they are prepared to use all means necessary the defend their livestock if any of the wolves cross the border

Wyoming ranchers have previously said they are prepared to use all means necessary the defend their livestock if any of the wolves cross the border

‘On the positive side, if any of those wolves cross over into Wyoming, they’re no longer protected. They’re classified as predators and they can be removed,’ said sheep rancher Jim Magagna. 

The appearance of the pair was first noted by Moffat County sheep rancher Jorgiea Raftopoulos who said she found wolf tracks a mile from her ranch house near Hamilton on February 16. 

This was later verified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and confirmed that the wolves were about 43 miles away from the Wyoming border. 

The CPW has also clarified that the agency has no plans to recapture the wolves who cross into Wyoming.  

Eric Odell, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s species conservation program manager told 9NEWS: ‘If our released wolves go north into Wyoming, they will do what they do and there is no plan to recapture those wolves.’  

This was later verified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and confirmed that the wolves were about 43 miles away from the Wyoming border

 This was later verified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and confirmed that the wolves were about 43 miles away from the Wyoming border

The possibility of the Wyoming ranchers killing the two wolves in Moffat County has not rattled any CPW officials. 

CPW Public Information Officer Joey Livingston told Field & Stream the recent wolf movements are consistent with expectations set in the state’s reintroduction plan. 

‘In previous re-introductions in other states we’ve seen wolves travel anywhere from 20 to 140 miles from reintroduction spots. 

‘Within our draft plan, we created boundaries 60 miles from the northern, western, and southern borders of Colorado. The goal is to reintroduce within that 60-mile buffer zone—to try to make sure that they stay in Colorado,’ Livingston said.

Jim Magagna, a Wyoming sheep rancher, called it a 'positive' that wolves 'can be removed' if they cross the state border

Jim Magagna, a Wyoming sheep rancher, called it a ‘positive’ that wolves ‘can be removed’ if they cross the state border

Colorado Parks and Wildlife have released five endangered gray wolves onto public land in Grand County as a part of the state's reintroduction plan

 The CPW has also clarified that the agency has no plans to recapture the wolves who cross into Wyoming

The possibility of the Wyoming ranchers killing the two wolves in Moffat County has not rattled any CPW officials

The possibility of the Wyoming ranchers killing the two wolves in Moffat County has not rattled any CPW officials 

But the potential crossing of the predators is not the first cross-border problem the states have faced. 

In September, the Colorado Sun reported that at least one wolf was killed after crossing into Wyoming.

The publication cited reports by ranchers and other stakeholders, but Wyoming officials declined to confirm the death.

Rather, they claimed the information was confidential under an 11-year-old state policy intended to mask the identity of people who legally kill wolves in the state.

In September, the Colorado Sun reported that at least one wolf was killed after crossing into Wyoming

In September, the Colorado Sun reported that at least one wolf was killed after crossing into Wyoming 

Reintroduction has proven to be a contentious point. Gray wolves were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century

Reintroduction has proven to be a contentious point. Gray wolves were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century 

Reintroduction has proven to be a contentious point. Gray wolves were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century.

In 1905, the federal government infected the animals with mange. A decade later, Congress passed a law requiring their elimination from federal land.

By 1960, the animals had been all but wiped out from their former range – under the same pretense, that they posed a threat to livestock and big game.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife had released 10 endangered wolves fitted with a GPS satellite collar into a remote forest in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains back in December 2023. 

The agency recently released a new map that shows their movement between January 23 to February 27. 

The remaining eight are spread between the state’s western edge of Larimer County, and south into portions of Summit, Eagle and Garfield Counties.