Colorado’s Lone Wolf
Having lived in Colorado for years, I get excited when I cross good news about the state. And recent reports that a lone wolf has traveled down to Colorado’s Eagle County from Montana gives me hope for the future of the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountains.
The 18-month-old female wolf, 314F, has had one incredible journey. She’s traveled about 1,000 miles from her pack up in Yellowstone National Park where she had been tagged with a Global Positioning System satellite collar. Having traveled through the Rockies myself in the winter, I’m telling you that this is no easy feat. Where I need snow tires, snow shoes, backcountry skiis and a wide array of hats, gloves and jackets… let’s just say, I’m impressed by her true low-maintainance style.
Wolf 314F has traveled through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado in search of a mate. While wolves are hotly debated in Colorado, there certainly are plenty of elk to go around in this area. It’s good to know that one by one, we may start to restore some natural balance to Colorado’s beautiful environment.
Don’t get me wrong. The story of one wolf does not justify Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision last week to follow in the Bush administration’s footsteps and to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. This flawed decision opens the gray wolf to inconsistent and poorly developed state management plans. We still need to protect the Rocky Mountain gray wolves so we can have healthy deer and elk populations, and restore the aspen and willow trees that’ve been stripped bare by the ungulates in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
But I must admit, wolf 314F’s journey through the Rockies does seem to reflect some of the change that’s going on in this region recently. Once a red state through and through, the state voted for Barack Obama in 2008 – perhaps a sign that this state is ready to restore its wildlife and embrace its environmental heritage.
Welcome to Colorado, wolf 314F.
(c) Adam Messer