Oregon will give Colorado up to 10 gray wolves, answering the state’s call for animals to complete a voter-mandated reintroduction of wolves by the end of the year.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced the agreement Friday, saying that the agency signed a one-year agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It comes after Colorado was turned down by Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, and as time was running out to secure animals before the end-of-year deadline.
Colorado biologists will capture wolves in Oregon and release them in Colorado beginning in December and through March, state officials said.
Colorado voters, overwhelmingly in the cities, voted in 2020 to reintroduce wolves on the western side of the state.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife and our administration have worked tirelessly to safely reintroduce wolves consistent with that voter-mandated deadline,” Gov. Jared Polis said in an emailed news release. “We are deeply grateful for Oregon’s partnership in this endeavor, and we are now one step closer to fulfilling the will of the voters in time.”
Oregon wildlife officials intend to help Colorado officials locate the wolves, as well as educate them on best practices for capture.
The wolves will come from northeast Oregon, which has more wolves than other parts of the state.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it will use helicopter crews and spotter planes to find the wolves, then test and treat each for disease. The wolves will go inside “sturdy aluminum crates” for shipment via truck or airplane to Colorado.
Wolves with injuries — such as broken teeth, missing eyes, broken or missing limbs, or mange or lice — will not be chosen for relocation, CPW said in its news release. If possible, the agency also will not choose wolves that have been involved in “repeated depredations.”
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The goal is to capture five females and five males, all within the age range of 1 to 5 years old, said Eric Odell, CPW’s wolf conservation program manager. That is the age the wolves would typically break out from their pack, he said.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Curt Melcher said his state has a “long history of helping other states meet their conservation goals” by providing animals.
“Some of our wildlife populations were also restored thanks to other states doing the same for us, including Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat,” he said.
CPW’s board of commissioners approved the state’s 301-page wolf reintroduction plan in May following two years of work and hundreds of hours of meetings across the state.
The plan calls for introducing 30 to 50 gray wolves in the next three to five years. The state proposed wintertime releases of captured wolves in two areas on the Western Slope: along the Interstate 70 corridor between Glenwood Springs and Vail, and along the U.S. 50 corridor between Monarch Pass and Montrose. The first releases are planned for state or private land around the I-70 corridor.