Restoring Wolves to Colorado

Gray Wolf, Yellowstone National Park

Wolves used to be a part of Colorado’s landscape, but with wolves being absent for over 70 years, Colorado has yet to reclaim that heritage. Their absence is causing the natural balance of Colorado’s landscape to unravel, as wolves are a keystone species in the environment. We have an opportunity to bring them back and restore Colorado’s natural balance, for ourselves and future generations.

Western Colorado’s expansive and remote public lands offer the perfect habitat for a sustainable wolf population, but the wolves need our help. Not only is Colorado biologically viable, but it is also socially viable with 20 years of polling consistently showing that 60–70 percent of Coloradans support the return of wolves to the state.

Gray Wolf, part of the Canyon Wolf Pack, in Yellowstone National Park

Gray wolves have successfully expanded to occupy habitat throughout the Northern Rockies since the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, but wolves remain absent from the Southern Rockies of western Colorado. This area is the last missing link for wolf conservation in the Rocky Mountains. Restoring wolves to Colorado would reconnect the North American wolf population across the entire Rocky Mountain chain — the “spine of the continent” — from Alaska to Mexico. The biological and conservation value of wolf reintroduction here would be significant.

Defenders of Wildlife is working to increase the Colorado public’s understanding of gray wolf behavior, ecology and options for reestablishing the species in Colorado. Defenders of Wildlife is a participant in the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, a collaboration of over 20 organizations focused on restoring wolves to Colorado. By working together, we hope to hear the wolf’s howl in Colorado again:

One of the first steps is showing people what it means to have wolves living in their ecosystem. In collaboration with Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and National Geographic, we have an opportunity to be a part of a Your Shot Campaign. The wolf has been portrayed in a negative light with such stories as Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs, but here is our chance to tell a different story. The Your Shot campaign is aimed to help revitalize the wolf and to tell a more accurate story; it allows people to send photos explaining what wolves actually mean to us. This effort will run from February 26th — March 19th. Submit your pictures here:

Wolves have been an essential part of the wildlife habitat in Colorado for thousands of years. It is our hope that future generations of Coloradans will be able to experience wolves roaming the landscape once again. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to maintain the environmental health of the state by restoring wolves as part of the natural balance.

-Ryan