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Wildlife officers confirm Colorado’s first wolf attack since predators were reintroduced

Agents found tooth marks, tracks and other evidence consistent with wolf depredation
A wolf from a pack is spotted near the North Park basin in central Colorado. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

A gray wolf killed a calf in Grand County, the first attack since the predators were released into the wild in December as part of a statewide reintroduction effort, state wildlife officials said Wednesday.

A rancher reported the dead calf to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers on April 2, agency spokesperson Travis Duncan said in a statement. A field investigation by state wildlife agents found tooth marks, tracks and other evidence consistent with wolf “depredation,” a term that typically describes a predator killing or maiming livestock.

The agency released 10 gray wolves in the Western Slope to fulfill a voter-approved mandate to reintroduce the species. Two other previously collared wolves have also been tracked in the area. It’s unclear where the wolf linked to the calf attack came from. CPW declined CPR News’ interview request.

State rules enacted for Colorado’s reintroduction program, which could see 30 to 50 wolves released over the next five years, allow farmers and ranchers to apply for up to $15,000 in reimbursement for livestock or guard and herding animals killed or injured by wolves.

Duncan said the rancher who reported the dead calf is eligible for compensation. Wildlife officers are contacting other ranchers and farmers in the area and encouraging them to use nonlethal means to prevent other wolf attacks, he said.

In December 2021, wildlife officials confirmed the first known instance of wolves killing livestock in more than 70 years. In January 2022, wolves reportedly killed a dog and two cows in Jackson County.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.