Story at a glance

  • Colorado has reported its first gray wolf pups in 80 years.
  • A litter of at least three wolf pups along with their parents were spotted last weekend by both a state biologist and a district wildlife manager.
  • Last year, Colorado voters approved a measure requiring the state to reintroduce gray wolves to public lands by the end of 2023.

Colorado has reported its first gray wolf pups in 80 years, state wildlife officials announced on Wednesday.

A litter of at least three pups along with their parents were spotted last weekend by both a state biologist and a district wildlife manager. Wolf litters tend to contain between four to six pups, so it remains possible there could be more.

“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado,” said Gov. Jared Polis (D).


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Last year, Colorado voters approved a measure requiring the state to reintroduce gray wolves to public lands by the end of 2023.

“With voter passage last year of the initiative to require re-introduction of the wolf by the end of 2023, these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families,” said Polis. 

In the 1940s, Colorado’s gray wolves were eradicated via hunting, trapping and poisoning, some for game hunting and some by angry residents losing livestock to the wolves, which viewed them as prey.

Around the time Colorado approved the reintroduction of the gray wolf, President Trump’s U.S. Department of the Interior removed it from protection under the Endangered Species Act, garnering widespread condemnation from wildlife advocates.

“The Trump administration shut the door to wolf recovery, even as the science shows that wolves are too imperiled and ecologically important to abandon,” Colette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement at the time. “We’re taking the fight to the courts, and I’m confident we can restore the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for gray wolves across the nation.” 


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Despite their removal, gray wolves remain protected in Colorado on a state level. The hunting of gray wolves is illegal and punishable by fines, loss of one’s hunting license, and jail time. 

As to not jeopardize the survival of the state’s new wolf residents, wildlife workers are monitoring the progress from afar.

“We are continuing to actively monitor this den site while exercising extreme caution so as not to inadvertently jeopardize the potential survival of these pups,” said Libbie Miller, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist. “Our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this momentous occasion in Colorado's incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not bothering them remains a paramount concern.”


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Published on Jun 10, 2021