Wildlife officials from the state of Colorado have recently spotted at least three gray wolf pups for the first time since the 1940s.
A biologist and a district wildlife manager from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) confirmed visual sighting of the pups with two adult collared wolves known in the state, according to a statement from the state government on June 9.
Officials conducted three separate observations between June 4 to 8 and has not ruled out the possibility that there could be more pups as a typical wolf litter consists of four to six pups, the statement said.
The pups mark the first evidence of wolf breeding in the state since the 1940s when hunters exterminated the species with the support of the federal government.
The emergency of the pups comes after voters passed last year an initiative to reintroduce the wolf in public lands in western Colorado by the end of 2023.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado,” Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.
CPW Wildlife Biologist Libbie Miller said that officials will monitor the den site where the pups have been spotted while “exercising extreme caution so as not to inadvertently jeopardize the potential survival of these pups.”
“It’s our priority to ensure that they have the chance to thrive, so even as we have exciting news, we want to remind everyone that these animals remain endangered in Colorado,” CPW Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf stated.
Because gray wolves are a state endangered species, killing one in Colorado can result in a $100,000 fine, up to one year in prison, and loss of hunting privileges.