Colorado this week announced the birth of the first gray wolf litter in 80 years on its soil, a major milestone in efforts to reintroduce the species into this western state.
In early June, a state biologist and a resource management employee reported observing two previously identified wolves, John and Jane, with three cubs from a distance.
The litters usually have four to six cubs, so other newborn wolves have simply not been seen yet.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said in a statement Wednesday, calling the milestone “historic.”
Residents of that country voted last year for a law on the reintroduction of these predators by 2023.
“We continue to actively monitor the den, while we are extremely careful not to inadvertently endanger the survival of these young people,” said biologist Libbie Miller. “Not disturbing them remains our main concern.”
About 250,000 wolves inhabited the country before European settlers carried out extermination campaigns during the 20th century.
Today, about 6,000 gray wolves are scattered in 48 states. There were only a thousand left when the United States declared them a protected species in the late 1970s.
Despite this good news from Colorado, environmental groups are still very worried about the future of this species, after former US President Donald Trump stripped it of some federal protections last year, exposing them to hunting.
In March, hunters in Wisconsin killed 216 wolves in three days, twice as many as allowed, representing nearly 20% of the state’s population.