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Pair of wolves released in Colorado part of Oregon pack that killed livestock

A gray wolf races out of a transport crateWolf 2303-OR, a juvenile male from the Five Points pack in Oregon weighing 76 pounds, races away from transport crates that carried him and four other wolves to Grand County. (Jerry Neal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
CPW says Oregon pack’s history does not exclude wolves from relocation

A pair of wolves released this week in Colorado were part of the large Five Points pack in Oregon that killed three livestock animals. Oregon wildlife officials permitted federal officials to kill four wolves from the Five Points pack in July and August.

“Once a pack has started depredating, then they would probably continue to include livestock in their diet in the future,” said John Williams, the co-chair of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Wolf Committee. “That does not mean they will always eat on livestock and it does not mean they will do it regularly. It means they know livestock is a viable and good source of food and when the situation arises, it would not surprise me to see them depredating.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Dec. 18 released five wolves captured in Oregon in a remote corner of Grand County. The agency late Friday said wildlife biologists had released five more Oregon wolves — four yearling females and an adult male — in the last four days on state-owned land in Grand and Summit counties. The locations are being kept secret.

Oregon’s Five Points pack was 12 wolves at the end of 2022. Four animals from Five Points pack were killed — two adult females, one adult male and a yearling female — in response to what Oregon officials called “chronic depredation of livestock.” The history of the recently released wolves was first reported by The Fence Post.

A pair of siblings — a male and female, both yearlings — from the Five Points pack were captured Dec. 17 in Oregon and released in Grand County the next day. The two wolves released this week were yearlings, meaning they were likely born in April 2022 and not adept hunters when the Five Points pack was killing livestock in northeast Oregon this summer.

Travis Duncan with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said any wolves that have been near livestock will have some history of depredation “and this includes all packs in Oregon.”

“This does not mean they have a history of chronic depredation,” Duncan said in an email. “If a pack has infrequent depredation events, they should not be excluded as a source population, per the (Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management) plan.”

121823 – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials released five gray wolves from Oregon onto public land in Grand County Monday.

In September, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wolf reintroduction manager Reid DeWalt told the Colorado House Agriculture Committee that the agency was asking other states for permission to capture and relocate wolves that “do not have a recent history of depredation.”

“You can see where folks would be like ‘You can have these bad wolves,’” DeWalt told the committee Sept. 12.

Committee chairman Sen. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Avon, asked DeWalt and Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Jeff Davis if the agency would choose to not introduce wolves if the only available animals came from depredating packs.

DeWalt said introducing wolves from depredating packs “would not be good for those animals.”

“We would be setting ourselves up for failure if we did that,” DeWalt said.

Davis told the committee that there were enough wolves in other states that did not have a history of killing livestock. The wildlife directors in other states “understand the consequences” of wolves that kill livestock, Davis said.

“I can honestly say none of us would give each other problem wolves,” Davis said. “That would not set us up for success … and it feeds the story that wolves and ranchers cannot coexist.”

Oregon was the only state willing to provide wolves to Colorado’s restoration effort.

Ranchers in North Park are asking Colorado Parks and Wildlife to use lethal tactics to stop a pair of wolves that roamed down from Wyoming and are connected with killing or injuring 20 cows, lambs and working dogs since 2021. (On Friday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials sent a letter to rancher Don Gittleson denying his request that the agency kill the wolves, saying that attacks on livestock were declining this year since many from the original pack that wandered into northern Colorado had returned to Wyoming.)

“I think everyone would be very disappointed if it was problem wolves that were introduced before the end of the year,” Sen. Jeff Bridges, a Democrat from Greenwood Village, said at the Sept. 12 committee hearing. “I really think that it would be in everyone’s best interest that the wolves that are introduced are not from problem packs.”

Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials were given up-to-date information on packs in northeastern Oregon including all information depredation and lethal removal permits.

“It was CPW’s decision as to what packs to target, but ODFW provided all this info up front,” she said.

Duncan, a public information supervisor with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said wildlife experts determining which wolves to relocate to Colorado weighed factors including the size of the pack, the removal of wolves from the pack and how the pack behaved after those lethal removals. The Five Points pack has not killed any livestock since four wolves were culled from the pack in late July and early August.

“The change in pack behavior and the lack of current depredations met CPW criteria for accepting the animals,” he said. “CPW teams in Oregon passed on several larger and easier-to-access packs because they had recent depredation or had a chronic or ongoing depredation history.”

Oregon officials have killed at least 16 wolves connected to livestock depredation in 2023, compared with six wolves in 2022. Oregon counted 24 packs and 178 wolves at the beginning of the year.

“We are in the thick of it right now and unfortunately that’s what you are signing up for,” said Williams with the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. “Wolves need two things: They need an adequate ungulate base for their food and they need tolerant people. Unfortunately in your state, much like our state, the tolerant people are in the cities and it’s the ranchers and rural people who get the wolves.”

Read more at The Colorado Sun

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