Earlier this week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) confirmed that a litter of wolf pups was born within state confines earlier this spring.
Though periodic wolf sitings have increased the last few years, this marks the first evidence of wolves breeding in the state since the 1940s when the species was driven out of the state by federal eradication efforts.
CPW issued a press released citing reports from a state biologist and district wildlife manager who both observed a litter of pups and a pair of adult wolves. Typical wolf litters typically consist of 4-6 pups, although each time the pack has been spotted only three pups have been observed.
We can only assume those three pups are just as adorable as this little one from Minnesota.
The emergence of the wolf pups comes after state residents voted in the fall in support of a polarizing state ballot initiative that would require CPW to actively reintroduce wolf packs into the state by 2023.
Despite the emergence of a now naturally occurring wolf pack, it will apparently do little to deter those efforts.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis welcomed the news of the newborn wolf pups but also seemed to voice his support for reintroduction efforts through a statement that read in part “these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families” according to Colorado Public Radio News.
The birth of the litter is not all that surprising to state biologists. Both parent wolves have tracking collars affixed to them for research purposes, and their locations indicated they had been spending time together before the female wolf headed to a den.
Both wolves were originally collared outside of Yellowstone National Park before making their way down to Colorado.
State biologists will continue to monitor the den from a safe distance, but minimizing human activity in the area will help ensure the survival of the pups. The previous observations of the pack were done from more than 2 miles away with the help of magnifying optics.
“Our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this momentous occasion in Colorado’s incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not bothering them remains a paramount concern,” said Libby Miller, a state wildlife biologist who works with wolves.