US state reports first litter of wolf puppies in 80 years

There are now an estimated 6,000 gray wolves in the lower 48 states. (Representative)

Washington, United States:

Colorado has reported its first litter of gray wolf puppies in 80 years, a major milestone in the US state’s efforts to reintroduce the iconic species, even though it remains threatened in other parts of the country.

Between June 4 and June 8, a state biologist and a wildlife manager independently reported visual confirmation that “John” and “Jane,” the well-known collared wolves, were seen with three young.

Observations were made at dusk or dawn from a distance of about two miles from the den site, so as not to interfere with the pack.

It is not known whether the three pups seen are the only offspring. There are usually four to six pups in a litter.

“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s,” Governor Jared Polis said in a statement Wednesday. “We welcome this historic den and new Wolf family to Colorado.”

Coloradans last year voted in favor of a law to reintroduce hunter-gatherers by 2023, the first time a state’s voters have forced their government to protect a species.

A quarter-million wolves once roamed from coast to coast before campaigns of eradication by shooting, trapping, and poisoning were launched in the 20th century.

There are now an estimated 6,000 gray wolves in the lower 48 states, up from about a thousand or so that remained before the US granted them protection under the Endangered Species Act in the late 1970s.

Some wolves traveled southeast from Yellowstone National Park, where they were reintroduced in the 1990s, but it was unclear whether the state had a self-sustaining, viable population.

“We are actively monitoring this den site, taking extreme precautions not to inadvertently endanger the potential existence of these pups,” said state wildlife biologist Libby Miller.

“Our hope is that we will eventually have photographs to document this momentous occasion in Colorado’s incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not disturbing them remains a paramount concern.”

Resolution 114 was on the ballot in Colorado during the November 3, 2020 election, which passed by only 50.9 percent. Its mainly rural protest was led by cattle ranchers.

The law directs the state to draw up a plan to manage livestock and introduce “paws on the ground” by 2023, while compensating livestock owners for losses.

ongoing risk

Despite news from Colorado, wildlife groups remain deeply concerned about the species’ future after former President Donald Trump’s administration lifted federal protections last year, exposing wolves to trophy hunting and extermination in several states. was.

In March, licensed poachers in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin blew over their quota and killed 216 wolves over the course of three days.

This number was almost double the allocation, and about 20 per cent of the entire population of the state.

In May, Idaho’s governor signed a bill allowing contractors to kill 90 percent of the state’s 1,500 wolves by shooting them from a helicopter or chasing them with snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles. .

Research has confirmed the ecological importance of keystone hunters in diluting over-browsing herds of elk to prevent habitat destruction. Wolves also help build wetlands by keeping otters under control.

A paper last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that wolves reduced the frequency of car-deer collisions in Wisconsin by a quarter, saving people from serious injuries and deaths.

The newspaper said that most of the reduction was not due to a decline in deer populations, but due to glare around roads often used as travel corridors by wolves.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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