The wolves are coming. Can Coloradans meet them on common ground? |

The wolves are coming. Can Coloradans meet them on common ground?

Jackson County rancher who reported the first wolf kill in more than 70 years says he’s skeptical, but willing to try.

David Gilbert
The Colorado Sun
Don Gittleson, on Dec. 26, 2021, discusses how the wolves entered his ranch outside Walden from the steep hillside and where he found the carcass of a heifer calf inside the corral during the previous week. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

The wolves aren’t waiting.

It’s been a year since mostly urban Colorado voters narrowly approved Proposition 114, a plan to reintroduce wolves to the Western Slope’s public lands — a plan with a deadline that’s still two years away.

But on Dec. 19, Don Gittleson, a rancher in North Park near the Wyoming border, lost a heifer to a wolf — the first confirmed wolf killing of livestock in Colorado in more than 70 years.

The wolf that brought down the heifer was one of a pair that have settled in Jackson County and is the parent of pups discovered in June, officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said. Colorado law prohibits killing wolves, which Gittleson said leaves him with insufficient options to protect his herd.

“I can’t stay up all night to watch my cattle,” said Gittleson, who runs about 170 mother cows on his Jackson County ranch. “If the pro-wolf people want to come up here and do it for me, that would be fine.”

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