After 80 long years, Colorado is once again home to gray wolf pups, state wildlife officials announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: The historic discovery of the newly born wolves follows Colorado voters' narrow decision last year to approve Proposition 114, a ballot measure forcing the state to reintroduce and manage gray wolves on public lands along the Western Slope by the end of 2023.
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What they're saying: "These pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families," Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.
Details: A Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist and a district wildlife manager each reported sightings in recent days of at least three pups that belong to "Jane" and "John," two wild wolves that parks officials have been tracking since discovering them last year.
Context: Wolves were eradicated here in the 1940s by means of shooting, trapping and poisoning because they killed livestock and game.
Wildlife advocates see the new policy as a pathway to restore wolf populations across forests stretching from the borders of Canada to Mexico.
The other side: Many rural residents remain opposed to reintroduction efforts, including ranchers, who worry wolves will kill their cattle.
Wildlife officials have pledged to work with landowners on practices to lower risks of run-ins.
Be smart: Although the animal's federally protected status as an endangered species was revoked last year, gray wolves are still protected in Colorado.
Killing a wolf in Colorado means a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
What to watch: Wolf litters typically have four to six pups, so sightings of more wolf pups in the near future are possible — especially as they gain confidence being outside of their den, wildlife officials say.
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