Colorado wolf pup birth confirmed in Grand County

(Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
State wildlife officials open a cage and release a gray wolf on Dec. 18, 2023 as part of a voter-approved measure that requires the predator’s reintroduction.

Colorado wildlife officials have confirmed that at least one wolf pup has been born in Grand County —the first among the group of gray wolves reintroduced to the state late last year.

A release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the presence of the pup was confirmed this week during “routine wolf monitoring efforts,” though they do not say whether the pup was spotted by an observer, a game camera or from the air. No photos or video of the pup have been made public, if they exist.

The birth, however, had been expected for weeks, after the tracking collar of one of the female wolves went silent in April, indicating the wolf was in a den. Tracking resumed late in that month.

“We are continuing to actively monitor this area while exercising extreme caution to avoid inadvertently disturbing the adult wolves, this pup, or other pups,” CPW Wildlife Biologist Brenna Cassidy said in the release.

Wolves typically give birth to four to six pups in a litter, meaning it is likely this one is not alone. But the presence of even one pup technically qualifies this group of wolves as a “pack.” This one was given the name “Copper Creek Pack” by wildlife officials.

The reintroduction of wolves to the state was required by voters in 2020 mandated the state to come up with a plan for reintroducing the animals by late last year. That happened in December, when five Oregon wolves were released in Grand County. Eventually the state plans to release 30-50 relocated wolves in Colorado.

One of those first wolves released was later found dead of natural causes, at about the time the female was in a den preparing to deliver this pup and maybe others.

Authorities have determined wolves were responsible for several livestock deaths, and ranchers have reiterated their concerns about protections for cattle. Some of those predations were done by wolves from Wyoming which crossed into the state independently and not as part of the reintroduction effort.

Ranchers are eligible for up to $15,000 in compensation for wolf kills.

CPW releases regular, but non specific, updates on where wolves are roaming. Currently, they are shown traveling in a wide area north of Interstate 70, from near Boulder and Larimer Counties on the east to Moffat County on the west.