HOWL Colorado

Three states investigating possible return of wolves

[large thumbnail url=”three-states-investigate-return-of-wolves” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”03″ day=”22″] [thumbnail icon url=”three-states-investigate-return-of-wolves” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”03″ day=”22″] Based on reports of wolves possibly returning to Colorado, Ohio, and Illinois  – with recently confirmed resettlement in Washington and Oregon, it appears wolves are slowly re-establishing themselves in much of their historic range.

Colorado, Illinois and Ohio are the three latest states working to confirm the presense of wolves in their states.

Colorado

Colorado wolves may have taken up residence on High Lonesome Ranch on the western side of the state. Researchers have collected what evidence they can and have sent it away for DNA analysis to confirm that it is indeed wolves.

Wolves  in Colorado would have protections which extend to the fullest extent of Federal law.

Illinois

The Chicagoist reports that a man has posted what he claims is a photo of a wolf seen in Illinois – where wolves were thought to have been wiped out before 1900. Just a single photo – which biologists do believe is a photo of a wolf – is not a significant form of proof.  However a trail camera also recently caught the image of a wolf on tape. Wolves have been shot in the borders of Idaho as early as 2002.

Wolves in Illinois are protected by both state and federal law.

original article on Chicagoist.com: Wolves Could Be Making Return To Illinois 

Ohio

The Belleview Gazette reported that a wolf was shot near an Elementary School on March 15, 2010. Being black in color, and weighing more than 100 lbs, it seems unlikely that it was a coyote.

It can’t be ruled out that it was a hybrid of some kind.  There are reports of a pack in the area, with at least two other animals. However, a wildlife management supervisor is dubious that the animal that was shot was pure wolf.

So unexpected is it to find wolves in Ohio that there are no protections of any kind in the state. So if wolves do return to Ohio, they would have to be recognized as being there and be added to the official state game and wildlife lists before they will be extended any form of protection. It is unknown what the state would do in the case of confirmed wild wolves taking up residence inside the borders.

Wolves do make their homes in Michigan, specifically the upper peninsula.

Article on Zanesville Times Recorder website: Cry wolf in Bellevue, Ohio, and you might be believed

The chances are…

Even if the High Lonesome Ranch wolves are not actually wolves at all, it is not at all unlikely that wolves will eventually move in to Colorado. They don’t face significant impediments. There have been a couple of wolf sightings prior to the latest rumors. A wolf found dead on I-70 and another seen near the Wyoming border. These appeared to be solitary wolves dispersing over wide areas.

There are some causes for doubt over the latest wolf reports…

Illinois reports are certainly intriguing but don’t suggest much more than the continued dispersal of individual wolves – which the state has seen on and off for years. But there is no real reason that wolves couldn’t successfully settle in the state, and may have already done so.

Ohio’s wolf report is the shakiest of all of them in terms of suggesting any form of resettlement. Though there is no reason to think that wolves won’t migrate down from Michigan. Hopefully they will run DNA tests on the wolf which was shot and see if he was a full-blooded or hybrid wolf. If it turns out he was a full-blooded wolf, then the hope is that Ohio will move quickly to get them some form of protection, which they currently lack in the state.

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