Mar 5, 2024 - News

Wolverines could be reintroduced in Colorado under new bill

A young wolverine. Photo: Philippe Clement/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

First came the reintroduction of wolves. Next could be wolverines.

The latest: Colorado lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill on Monday that would bring wolverines, the largest species of weasel, back into the high country.

State of play: Wolverines were listed as a threatened species late last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as climate change endangers their cold, high-elevation habitats.

How it works: The measure would allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which backs the legislation, to create and implement a multi-year reintroduction plan for 100 to 180 wolverines.

  • Part of the plan would include creating rules for compensating owners of livestock for any losses caused by the species.
  • A supportive Gov. Jared Polis also expanded CPW's biodiversity budget this year to $2.2 million to help kickstart the process.

Flashback: According to CPW, the state was once home to a "viable" population of wolverines — but that was last confirmed in 1919 — and no sightings were recorded from 1979 to 1996.

What they're saying: "Reintroduction will give wolverines a fighting chance as climate change reduces the snowpack they need to rear their young, and this bill is a good first step," Alli Henderson, southern Rockies director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

The big picture: State leaders and animal advocates are on a mission to "rewild" Colorado. One of the most recent efforts came in January, when the state cut its April hunting season for mountain lions and banned electronic lures after 198 of the felines were killed in a month.

The intrigue: Some leaders are turning to voters to push through their wildlife agendas.

What's next: Colorado's bill to reintroduce wolverines is under consideration and will be debated in the coming weeks.

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