In six days of helicopter work, the crew has captured 14 of the park’s 56 wolves. The park’s wolf population has declined precipitously from only two years ago when 171 wolves roamed the territory. In a normal year, about 25 wolves have been captured and collared, Smith said.
Wolf advocates are celebrating the return of wolves to Colorado after biologists for a recreational ranch recently announced a pack may have taken up residence.
But that same prospect has sparked fear in neighboring ranchers and outfitters.
Spent the evening in Cherry Creek S.P. – plenty of wildlife around including a red-tailed hawk (very close, but too many branches in the way), two far-off bald eagles, several coyotes and whitetail deer, but the muted winter light was just horrible for photography. I’m really ready for the spring to bring some sunshine, blue skies and color back to these grey and brown foothills.
Spent another nice afternoon at Chatfield with my wife – hiked in to the trees to look for the owl, after a half hour of searching I found it roosting about 20 feet up. The light was less than optimum, and there were too many branches in the way to get great shots. Spotted a ton of hawks, but other than that is was an uneventful yet still incredibly enjoyable evening.
Another 6-coyote day at Chatfield – from the Highline Canal to Fox Run, the song dogs were out in full force. One of the Plum Creek yearlings made an appearance, as well as the alphas and an unknown yote. The Catfish Flats female took down another goose, this time alone, just west of Kingfisher.
The male was about a half mile south of her, hunting voles on the far side of a row of trees, unaware of the entire thing. We watched her for a while, then finished the day with a couple of close hawks at Massey Draw.
Spent the late afternoon taking pictures of mule deer at Deer Creek, then Dan and I headed to Chatfield for sunset coyotes. Found the Plum Creek’s (male and female alphas, not sure where the 2 yearlings were) at their usual spot, in sight but way out of camera range in the blowing snow, so we hit the west side of the park. Caught the beautiful Catfish Flats couple (see Valentine’s Day trip report) out in the snow. These two are excellent hunters, this is the first time I’ve ever seen coyotes succeed at hunting geese. My coyote luck seems to be getting a little better, finally – spotted 6 of them today.
Attempted to drive up to the Rampart Range area with Dan, but turned around due to the snow storm. Spent the rest of the evening at Chatfield, trying our best to get shots of the only subjects readily available, red-tailed hawks in terribly low light. Saw a coyote, some whitetails, and the usual porcupine – all too far away to get decent shots. Another rough winter day…
Down to one wolf. I guess that means the end of the wolf pack. The Druid Peak wolf pack was formed in the release enclosure back in 1996. Most of the wolves came from the same pack in British Columbia, but not all. For example the big alpha male came from another pack. The Druids immediately set about trying, and then finally succeeding to dominate the Lamar Valley. It was a good 14 years with hundreds of thousands of people seeing them.
Last year the Obama Administration removed federal protection from some of the wolves that had been restored to the northern Rockies under the Endangered Species Act. The move paved the way for controversial state-regulated wolf hunts.
NOW, with David Brancaccio, takes a comprehensive look at all sides of the wolf issue.
Show airs on PBS on February 26th at 8:30 PM (MST)
click here to view the program online
Recent discoveries show that wild wolves may again be living in Colorado. Ryan Warner speaks with Wildlands Network President and conservation biologist Michael Soulé.
Biologist Douglas Smith has led the Yellowstone Wolf Project since its inception and has studied wolves for almost thirty years. He co-authored with Gary Ferguson the book Decade of the Wolf, which details the historic wolf reintroduction effort in Yellowstone.
Colorado D.O.W. –
At least two elk died as a result of being chased and injured by dogs near Durango and Bayfield; dogs have chased bighorn sheep in the Almont Triangle area near Gunnison; deer have been harassed near Creede and within the city limits of Durango; and deer and elk have been chased in the Montrose area.
“My take is the police now get a complaint of an aggressive coyote, and they shoot the first one they see,” said Steve Gurwin, an attorney who lives and works in Greenwood Village. “The police are using silencers. They’re even using distressed-rabbit calls. It’s indiscriminate in my view.”
The reintroduction, scheduled to occur as early as this month, has forced U.S. state and federal agencies to scramble. Their problem is to figure out what to do if a wolf wanders north into the United States.
So far, their answer isn’t pleasing ranchers: They’ll treat any wolves from Mexico as fully endangered and therefore largely untouchable…
Laurie Lyman is perched in the middle of a harmonic convergence. A lilt of wolf song is wafting from a broken line of mountains in front of her, answered by a howling soloist on the flanks of Specimen Ridge, about a mile to the south…
I couldn’t have asked for a nicer Valentine’s Day! My wonderful wife packed a picnic lunch, we left the house for Chatfield and were hiking along Plum Creek by 2:00. Right off the bat we were treated to a great horned owl, which we followed for a bit and were able to photograph at close range in three different trees.
We had lunch and decided to hike out to check for the porcupine in his usual area. I soon spotted him on the ground near his tree, Shina got a real kick out of watching me waddle down the snowy hill after the waddling porcupine.
We spent some time with the porcupine, then made a long loop through the flooded, now mostly frozen area of South Plum Creek, back to the truck. We decided to head home and drove out the west side of the park instead of going south, sure glad we did. As soon as we reached Catfish Flats we spotted two coyotes on the east side of the road. We soon realized that this was a male and female, and we were able to watch them hunting voles for the next half hour. They put on quite a show – at one point the male came to within 15 feet of the truck, crossed the road to check for prey in a culvert, then crossed back and followed alongside the truck for about half a mile. He caught a vole for the female coyote and presented it to her, which she gladly accepted, but when he tried to help himself to one that she had caught he was harshly scolded. The sun was setting as the couple retreated to the trees, a great end to a perfect day in the field!
Left the house around 1:00, picked up Dan and headed to Roxborough State Park. Most of the mulies were grazing up high on the hogback, way out of my camera range. No sign of the bald eagle that’s been out on the lake lately – hopefully it’s still in the area, I haven’t had the chance to get any decent shots of it yet. Left Roxy and headed to Deer Creek Canyon Park, found the main deer herd at their usual spot. The mule deer bucks, unlike their whitetail cousins, have yet to drop their antlers. Got a couple close shots of a yearling, waited for the big bucks to get up and move toward us but gave up after an hour.
Exited the Deer Creek area and headed to Chatfield. Plenty of red-tailed hawks at Chatty, just out of my range – still working toward that 500mm lens! Spent a little while shooting the mallards and goldeneyes at the flooded Plum Creek area, really beautiful birds. We’ve been having better luck with coyotes on the west side of the park lately, so we headed that way around 4:30. No canines around so we spent a half hour or so shooting canada goose close-ups – there’s got to be around 500 of them taking a break from their migration to refuel at the park. We decide to call it a day and started to head home, but just as we reached the entrance road we spotted a coyote mousing near the shoulder. Spent the rest of the sunset hour with the yote, got some shots but the light was less than perfect – still a great way to end the day!
Spent a couple of hours this afternoon at Chatfield State Park, saw 4 coyotes travelling together (took me forever to figure out that it was the same family unit that I had spent so much time around this summer, they look different in their winter coats!), several whitetails, two large groups of mule deer and a porcupine.
Headed back out to CCSP with my friend and fellow photog, Dan C. Didn’t see a single coyote, but did see a ton of pheasants and got some decent shots of a couple groups of whitetails. Had a nice hike through the ice-covered creeks and marshes, until Dan broke through the ice and fell into about 2 feet of swampy ice water – funny to me, not very funny to him. Somehow kept the camera from getting wet though, great job!
“Last April, in a narrow mountain valley in northwestern Colorado, Cristina Eisenberg was searching for scat… In the course of her research, Eisenberg had seen and handled thousands of scats just like this one, but not here, not in Colorado. Everything about it — the size, the shape, the smell, the contents — indicated a creature that had been extirpated from the state more than 70 years ago. Everything about it said wolf…..”