Confirmed: Gray Wolf Shot and Killed in Kremmling, Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 29, 2015

Contact: Haley Mckey, hmckey@defenders.org, (202)-772-0247

Confirmed: Gray Wolf Shot and Killed in Kremmling, Colorado

DENVER, Colo. – Wildlife biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just confirmed through DNA analysis that the wolf-like animal shot by a coyote hunter outside of Kremmling on April 26 was an endangered gray wolf.

Jonathan Proctor, Defenders’ Rockies and Plains program director, issued the following statement:

“This is a tragic circumstance and a teachable moment. Wolves have been absent from Colorado for 70 years, when the last Colorado wolf was killed in 1945. This wolf’s return to Colorado is an example of what gray wolf recovery should look like: animals naturally dispersing back to their historic habitat. But, even as wolves disperse to Colorado, they won’t survive here unless state wildlife agencies take a more proactive role in educating hunters and local residents about the potential presence of wolves, their status as a protected species and how to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes."

“This incident also reinforces the critical need for continued federal protections for gray wolves. Removing federal protections would make it less likely that wolves would be able to establish new packs in areas outside their current range, essentially halting wolf recovery into western and southern Colorado in its tracks.”

Background:

There were once up to two million gray wolves living in North America. The animals were driven to near-extinction in the lower-48 states by the mid-1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery and reintroduction programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Roughly 5,500 wolves now live in the lower-48 states, but today, the species only occupies approximately 36 percent of their suitable range – remaining absent from huge swaths of wilderness that provide excellent habitat but are missing wolves as an essential component of ecosystem function. Places like the Grand Canyon, Olympic Peninsula in Washington, western Oregon, much of western Colorado, northern California and parts of Utah could all be a home to wolves once again, bringing both ecological and economic benefits to local communities.

In 2013, the Service proposed a flawed and premature federal delisting of gray wolves across the country, including Colorado. In the event of such a delisting, management of wolves would be determined by individual states and intentionally killing wolves would no longer be a federal crime. With patchwork protections for the species implemented at the discretion of each state, wolves will not be able to safely move across state lines.  Defenders advocates for the restoration of wolf populations in appropriate suitable habitat that still exists for gray wolves in Colorado and parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

###

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @defendersnews.