North Park is ground zero in Colorado’s wolf controversy. Ranchers want to know if anyone hears them. |

North Park is ground zero in Colorado’s wolf controversy. Ranchers want to know if anyone hears them.

Cattlemen could “shoot, shovel and shut up,” but they say it’s not a long-term solution. Instead, they want the rest of Colorado to understand why they need lethal force to get rid of problem wolves.

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun

WALDEN – Sunrise is burning off the fog that hovers over the flatlands and above the frozen creeks, leaving a pink glow on the snow.

The wolves usually come under the cover of fog, just before dawn. The black ones are easier to spot against the white backdrop of miles and miles of snow-covered ranchland.

Don Gittleson, his wife, Kim, and their son, Dave, take turns sitting in a pickup truck through the night, keeping their eyes on the cows for signs that they’re nervous, that maybe the wolves are back. Dave Gittleson’s dog fogs up the truck windows, but she knows before he does if the wolves are nearby, and she sits up at attention in the dark.

Three of the Gittlesons’ cows are dead and a fourth was injured because of the wolf pack. A neighbor a few miles away said two of his dogs were killed by wolves — one that died on the front porch after dragging itself home in December, the other torn apart about 200 yards from their house in January.

Other residents of North Park, a hunting and ranching community where there is less than one person per square mile, have spotted the wolves chasing antelope. Even before the livestock kills in December and January, the pack that moved down from Wyoming was the talk of town among the locals eating breakfast burgers and green chile burritos at Mad Moose Cafe on Main Street.

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