Wolves In Colorado?

Good news wolf advocates. Wolves may have dispersed to Colorado and landed in just the right place, on the 300 square mile High Lonesome Ranch, northeast of Grand Junction. The wolf researcher, Cristina Eisenburg, is working closely with Paul R. Vahldiek, Jr., the major shareholder of the ranch. Eisenburg lives in Northwest Montana and studies wolves and trophic cascades in the North Fork of the Flathead.

Wolf sightings, howls and scat have been identified on the High Lonesome by Cristina and her team. The scat was sent to UCLA for DNA testing and the ranch is waiting for the results to postively confirm the presence of gray wolves.  What welcome news this would be!!

“Committed to conservation of private lands and wildlife, Vahldiek has been working for several years to determine the baseline ecology of the ranch. To further that work, the rancher hired landscape ecologist and large carnivore specialist Cristina Eisenberg to study predator-prey relationships on the land, which was believed to be wolfless. Vahldiek hoped to complete these studies prior to any natural recolonization of wolves. Much to his and Eisenberg’s surprise, it now appears that the storied carnivore has already taken up residence on the property.

Asked about evidence for wolf presence on The High Lonesome Ranch, Eisenberg said, “Wolf sightings, tracks, howling, and other wolf sign gathered over the past eighteen months suggest likely wolf presence, pending DNA analysis results.”

Vahldiek recently became a board member of  the Wildland’s Network who’s mission ” is to reconnect and restore wildlands across North America to allow continued movement of wide-ranging species.” 

Vahldiek first became interested in the role that wolves play in regulating healthy landscapes when he attended a talk by Eisenberg given at the Boone and Crockett Club’s annual conservation meeting at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch. Her presentation made him realize that The High Lonesome Ranch’s approximately 300-square-miles of deeded private and permitted BLM lands might be likely habitat for natural wolf recolonization.

“It seemed logical to me, based on what happened in Yellowstone National Park, that keystone species like wolves might have a positive effect on biodiversity and restoring the health of aspen groves on this property,” notes Vahldiek. His interest in the ecological benefits of keystone species led him to attend further meetings on large landscape-scale conservation convened by the international conservation group Wildlands Network

There are 292,000 elk in Colorado according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2009 Spring press release, plenty of elk for wolves in the state.

Wolves have made a  few ventures into Colorado since they were exterminated from the state by the feds in the 1940’s,  almost seventy years ago.

A little Montana wolf , 314F, made an epic journey to Colorado, arriving in February 09.  There she met her sad end.  If wolves have found a home on the High Lonesome Ranch this could be a better outcome for them in the Centennial State!

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Colorado Rancher Says Wolves May Have Arrived; Welcomes Their Return

According to a press release, wild wolves may have already reached a Western Colorado ranchland.
By Press Release, Wildlands Network, Guest Writer, 2-08-10
 
 
http://www.newwest.net/city/article/colorado_rancher_says_wolves_may_have_arrived_welcomes_their_return/C8/L8/
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Prodigal Dogs

Have gray wolves found a home in Colorado?

From the February 05, 2010 issue of High Country News
 
 by Michelle Nijhuis
http://www.hcn.org/issues/42.3/prodigal-dogs

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Here is wolf 314F’s story:

The Amazing Journey and Sad End of Wolf 314F

Wolf1

She traveled through five states, her GPS collar registering 1000 miles.  This young Mill Creek Pack wolf  left her Montana home in September 08 and arrived in Colorado in February 09.  Her epic journey was long and precarious.  She was tracked through Yellowstone National Park, western Wyoming, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, southeastern Idaho , northeastern Utah, finally arriving in Eagle County, Colorado.  

Her journey ended in March 09 on a lonely hillside in Colorado called “No Name Ridge, where her bones were found.  Nobody is saying how she died.  The investigation into her death is ongoing.

314F’s life and death reinforces the argument wolves need ESA protection,  especially when they’re dispersing  in search of other wolves or a mate.  They’re under constant pressure from the SSS mentality, which makes this young wolf’s journey so incredible.  Hopefully more wolves will make the trip.  Colorado has some of the best wolf habitat in the lower forty-eight.

Against all odds, this eighteen month old wolf showed the world what wolves are made of. I hope Wildlife officials discover how she met her end.  If she died by human hands this person or persons should be prosecuted!  

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Lonely Lady Wolf Looks For Love in All The Wrong Places

Rocky Mountain News

By Berny Morson

Published February 25, 2009 at 3:09 p.m.

Call it the power of  love.

A female wolf has wandered more than 1,000 miles through five states in search of a mate and is now in Colorado’s Eagle County, wildlife officials in Colorado and Montana said Wednesday.

The wolf, known only as 314F, set off on her lonely quest in September when, for reasons unknown, she became unhappy with the male prospects among the pack of seven animals she was born into 20 months earlier.

Since then, 314F has followed her heart from the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone National Park through Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. She has trotted past areas where other wolf packs are known to live toward a state that has not had a wolf population for 60 years.

Montana officials follow her progress with a global positioning device on a collar that was fitted to her neck in July.

“Basically, what she’s doing is, she’s wandering around looking to see if there’s other wolves around,” said Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Her prospects here are not good. The last confirmed wolf sighting in Colorado was a male who made his way from Yellowstone in 2004. But he was killed on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs before anyone knew he was here.

Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist Shane Briggs said that when wolf packs get too large, some animals leave in search of a mate with whom to start a new pack in a different area, Briggs said. That’s how the species increases its range, he said.

Before the 2004 sighting, wolves were considered extinct in Colorado. The last confirmed one had been killed in 1943.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2009/feb/25/yellowstone-wolf-travels-1000-miles-colorado/?partner=RSS

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Suspicion Surrounds Colorado Wolf Death

Did the epic journey of Wolf 341F from Montana to Colorado end at the hands of a human? Officials aren’t saying.

By David Frey, 9-27-09

http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/suspicion_surrounds_colorado_wolf_death/C41/L41/

* It’s been reported that wolf  314F’s number is actually 341F but since she is so well known as 314F, I didn’t make any changes.

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in : Wolves in Colorado,  wolf recovery, gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: Dispersing wolves, wolf recovery, Colorado wolves

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