World News

Wolves suspected in death of several calves near Meeker

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are investigating the death of 18 cow calves killed near Meeker as a possible wolf attack, which could mean that new wolves have migrated into the state.

Currently the only confirmed wolf pack in Colorado lives in North Park near Walden, though officials lost track of those eight wolves this summer. Another pack lived in Moffat County but also went missing with at least one expert suspecting they were killed.

A livestock owner reported to state wildlife officials on Tuesday that the calves had been killed over two weeks and an area spanning several miles on White River National Forest lands, Parks and Wildlife spokesman Travis Duncan confirmed. Investigators are now speaking with the livestock owner, collecting evidence and scouting for scat and tracks in the area.

If they confirm that wolves did indeed kill the calves then “given the recent sightings of the North Park pack and the distance to the Meeker area, it is likely that this is a second pack of wolves in Colorado,” Duncan said.

Additional information about the recent attack was not immediately available.

State officials lost track of the Walden pack in June after the wolves killed at least five cows and two dogs, leading Michael Robinson, a wolf expert with the Center for Biological Diversity, to speculate that some of them might have been illegally killed.

Duncan said in June that state officials had not confirmed any deaths in the Walden pack but Robinson said that if one or several had been killed the survivors might have relocated.

Another pack had been confirmed in Moffat County in early 2020 when state officials spotted six wolves. The group soon disappeared, though, and those officials soon fielded reports that two or three wolves had been killed just across the border in Wyoming, where hunting the predators is legal.

Robinson called on Parks and Wildlife officials to be more transparent in their investigations and their upcoming plans to reintroduce even more gray wolves to the state’s Western Slope by the end of the next year.

Currently, any wolves in Colorado migrated here by themselves, coinciding with a contentious and narrowly passed statewide referendum to reintroduce the predators.

Farmers and ranchers have pointed to wolf killings in Colorado over the past year to argue that reintroducing the species will harm their already struggling businesses and warn of more attacks in the future. But wildlife advocates say wolves will benefit the ecosystem.

A February ruling from a California judge restored federal protections for the wolves, an endangered species. Anyone who harms or kills a wolf could face fines and a prison sentence.

Source: Read Full Article