Man Discovers Pet Dog's Dead Body After Wolves Appeared at His Ranch

A man's dog has been killed by wolves after a pack appeared at his ranch in Jackson County, Colorado.

Carlos Atencio said he woke up around 5 a.m. on January 9 after hearing something on the porch.

Atencio told KUSA, an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Denver, that one of his dogs, Izzy, was sitting there right near the door, which he said was "pretty rare."

After spotting Izzy, Atencio soon found the carcass of his other dog, Buster, nearby,

The rancher said it was "pretty obvious" that wolves were responsible for the death of Buster. "There were wolf tracks everywhere," he said.

Izzy also appeared to have been attacked by the wolves and suffered several injuries as a result.

"They tore open her belly a little bit. They bit her pretty good on her hamstring. She has quite a bit of bite marks on top of her," Atencio said.

"They've literally got hundreds of thousands of acres that they can roam around here. They've been in our backyard. They're not coexisting with us at all."

In the past two weeks, a pack of wolves that are believed to have migrated to Colorado from Wyoming has killed several cows in Jackson County, causing concern among ranchers.

The deaths of the livestock and Atencio's dog come as Colorado plans to begin reintroducing more gray wolves into the state over the coming years after voters approved a ballot initiative known as Proposition 114 in November 2020.

"They're going to be an issue not only with the cattle and the livestock, they're going to be an issue with pets," Atencio said. "My dog got eaten."

Colorado is part of the gray wolf's native range, but the animals were eradicated from the state and much of the western U.S. by the 1940s at the hands of humans, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

Over the past few years, however, gray wolves have returned to the state. Supporters of reintroducing wolves to Colorado say that the animals will be beneficial for the local ecosystem, and that their removal had negative knock-on effects.

But the reintroduction is opposed by hunters and ranchers who argue that wolves will have a negative impact on their business and activities.

The species has already been reintroduced to other parts of the United States, including a successful program that began at Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s.

A spokesperson for Colorado Parks & Wildlife told Newsweek that the agency was aware of the wolf pack responsible for the killings in Jackson County.

"Because of the broad awareness and public attention on Proposition 114 and the mandated wolf reintroduction efforts in the state, it is worth underscoring that these incidents are not related to or a result of wolf reintroduction efforts in Colorado," the spokesperson said.

"No wolves have been reintroduced under Proposition 114. The wolves involved in the recent depredation incidents migrated naturally into Colorado."

Colorado Parks & Wildlife said it can confirm eight wolves in Colorado—the naturally migrating pack known to be located in Jackson County—but the agency frequently receives reports from across the state of other potential sightings.

On January 14, wolves killed a working dog on a ranch in Oregon, an official with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department told The Oregonian.

Update 01/31/22, 11:05 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments from a Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokesperson.

A gray wolf
Stock image showing a gray wolf. A rancher's dog was killed by wolves in Colorado. iStock