Wolves Kill and Eat Cow in First Attack on Livestock in Colorado in 70 Years

A pack of wolves has killed a cow in Colorado in the first attack on livestock in over 70 years. The Colorado Cattlemen's Association (CCA) said the 500lb heifer was found dead, having been attacked and eaten, near Walden.

Wolves once roamed across Colorado but they were eradicated from the state by 1940 after conflicts with humans. After humans arrived and took away the large mammals the wolves once preyed on, the predators began hunting livestock and they were "systematically eradicated," Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said.

The first lone wolf took up residence in the state in 2019. In November 2020, a bill was passed that would see wolves reintroduced to the state. Since then a breeding pack has been established, with the first pups born in June 2021. The pack resides in north central Colorado.

"On behalf of the livestock producer, who is a member of the CCA, as well as Colorado Parks and Wildlife, we ask that the public refrain from disturbing the area and individuals associated with this wolf attack," CCA President Steve Wooten said in a statement.

The CCA said that while the incident was unfortunate, it highlighted issues that CPW would need to address as part of its reintroduction program. This includes developing methods to minimize conflict and to provide compensation for wolf-related losses, including livestock performance such as loss of pregnancies and weight loss.

A CPW spokesperson told the Denver Post that it was aware of a report of a wolf kill and was "actively investigating the claim." Rebecca Ferrell told the newspaper: "If it is determined to be caused by the wolves that have naturally migrated into the state, we will compensate the landowner through current game damage program."

It is thought restoring wolves to Colorado will help improve the natural ecosystem and provide a means of controlling elk numbers.

Wolves are slowly expanding their range in other parts of the U.S. after hunting almost saw the species eradicated from the U.S. in the 20th century. In Yellowstone National Park, the reintroduction of wolves in 1995 has been deemed a huge success, with the species helping to restore the ecosystem of the land.

In California, wolves have been expanding their range after being hunted to near extinction. Earlier this year, one was tracked as far south as Yosemite for the first time in a century, in what scientists called a "beacon of hope" for the species in the state.

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Stock image of wolves. A pack of wolves killed a cow in the first attack on livestock in Colorado in 70 years. Getty Images