North Park wolves kill working cattle dog, fatally injure pet dog on separate ranches

Two recently re-collared North Park wolves killed a working cattle dog and fatally injured a pet dog at different ranches four miles apart Monday and Tuesday, the first domestic wolf kills by the splintered pack since November.

The deaths occurred on ranches in southwestern Jackson County.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed in an email response to Coloradoan questions that a working livestock dog was killed by wolves Monday and another was euthanized after being injured by wolves Tuesday.

Wildlife officers found wolf tracks in the vicinity and GPS collar data for both incidents indicating wolves were in the area during the time the dogs were attacked.

The agency said the owner of the working cattle dog will be compensated for the loss but it does not compensate for depredations of pets.

'The best hired man I ever had'

Greg Sykes told Shannon Lukens of Steamboat Radio the wolves killed his dog, Cisco, a 7-year-old border collie, after he let his dogs out about 4 a.m. Monday. He said one of his dogs did not come back when called and he found Cisco dead 30 yards from his house after sunrise.

"The best hired man I ever had," Sykes, the ranch foreman, told Lukens.

Sykes said he called Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which he said verified two collared wolves were near his house at 4 a.m.

Tuesday morning, the same two wolves came back near his house around midnight and went to a neighbor's ranch and attacked their dog, Sykes said.

Cisco, left, was found killed by wolves in Jackson County, Colorado on March 13, 2023. Blaze was fatally injured by wolves March 14, 2023, four miles away.
Cisco, left, was found killed by wolves in Jackson County, Colorado on March 13, 2023. Blaze was fatally injured by wolves March 14, 2023, four miles away.

'He was part of the family, no doubt'

That neighbor is Roy Gollobith.

He said he was up about 6:30 a.m. and saw his pet dog, Blaze, standing with his head down.

"I called him and he just turned around with this glazed looked,'' Gollobith told Lukens. "Then I saw blood on his throat. Sure enough he was pretty tore up.''

He called Colorado Parks and Wildlife and his wife took Blaze, a mixed-breed dog, to a veterinarian in Laramie, Wyoming.

"They said there was too much damage to his throat and abdomen to do anything, so they put him down," Gollobith said.

He said there was a blood trail and wolf tracks about 10 feet from his house.

"He was part of the family, no doubt," Gollobith said. "He'd go out there and make buddies with the yearlings and prance around like he was one of them. He never turned out to be much of a cow dog, so he was just a pet.''

Gollobith said his wife saw two wolves about 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, about a mile from the house. He said last year the wolves came closer to the house, resulting in a fight between Blaze and a gray wolf (presumed to be the pack's breeding male).

"He (Blaze) had it behind the front leg,'' Gollobith said. "The wolves turned on him and chased him back to the house. There was blood and hair out there but it wasn't Blaze's, it was the wolf's. I've seen him attack bears. He just doesn't give up.''

Meeker cattle deaths:Pack of dogs in Meeker area casts doubt on wolf involvement

First confirmed wolf kills in four months

The first seven confirmed North Park wolfpack kills were located in the northeastern part of Jackson County.

The last four confirmed wolf kills, including the recent dogs, have all taken place in the southwest part of the county. Previous to Monday's incidents, the last confirmed wolf depredation was Nov. 18, on the Park Range Ranch, just north of where this week's kills took place.

Four cows, four dogs and three calves have been confirmed killed by the North Park pack since the breeding male and female naturally migrated to the state and gave birth to six pups in spring 2021. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has paid $12,929.75 for eight confirmed depredations with three claims pending and two claims denied, according to the state wildlife agency.

The two wolves involved in this week's depredations were the pack's breeding male and one of the pack's grown pups. The two were captured and fitted with GPS collars by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the same general area of Jackson County on Feb. 2. The breeding male slipped his collar several days later but was recaptured and collared Feb. 18.

The North Park wolfpack numbered eight at its height, including the breeding male and female and six pups.

Three of the pups were legally killed in Wyoming, just north of the Colorado border in early October. There has not been a confirmed sighting of the breeding female in about a year, leading many to believe the approximately 6-year-old wolf has died.

North Park ranchers believe the lull in depredations on cattle is largely due to the pack losing four of its members, making its killing of livestock more difficult.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will release its final wolf recovery plan at its May 3-4 meeting in Glenwood Springs.

One of the more controversial issues in the plan is the lethal take of depredating wolves, which is not currently allowed. Wolves in Colorado are listed as endangered, which only allows killing of wolves if human life is threatened.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is currently undergoing a process that would allow lethal take of wolves in Colorado under certain conditions.

More: Political pressure?Some say Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is putting pressure to change wolf plan: What we know

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Colorado wolves kill cattle dog, fatally injure pet dog