Press Release Dec 19, 2023

Wolves Return to Colorado Marking a Milestone for Wildlife Recovery

The homecoming of gray wolves to Colorado signifies a beacon of what is possible when we all commit to restoring our public lands.” -  Tracy Coppola, NPCA's Colorado Senior Program Manager

Denver, CO - This week, Colorado state wildlife officials released the first group of 5 gray wolves following a 2020 ballot initiative passed by Colorado voters to reintroduce wolves to the state. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) celebrates this release as a milestone for wolf recovery and wildlife in our public lands.

Led by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW), this release is a vital step in Colorado’s multi-year plan to establish a self-sustaining wolf population. CPW plans to introduce up to 15 wolves on the Western Slope each year for the next 3-5 years while tracking and monitoring their progress.

While initially released on state and private lands, these wolves are expected to move into federally managed areas, including Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Rocky Mountain National Parks. According to a new national wildlife poll, 84% of Americans support restoring gray wolf populations to national parks in the lower 48 states.

Once on the brink of extermination, wolves were among the first animals protected by the Endangered Species Act when their numbers dwindled to fewer than a thousand and, by the 1940s, were eradicated from Colorado. NPCA applauds state leaders and conservation groups for leading wolf recovery efforts in Colorado.

Statement from Tracy Coppola, Colorado Senior Program Manager with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“As we celebrate the much-anticipated homecoming of gray wolves to Colorado, we look towards the broader commitment to wildlife recovery in the United States; it’s a beacon of what is possible when we all commit to restoring our public lands.

“From Yellowstone to Isle Royale, wolves enrich our national parks. Science consistently shows the positive impact wolves have in maintaining balance and restoring biodiversity. At the same time, the national parks play an integral role in wildlife restoration, providing safe, protected, and core habitat for wolves.

“We wholeheartedly support a comprehensive plan to restore this iconic species and eagerly anticipate the day when wolves will freely roam the landscapes of Colorado’s national parks. Colorado park visitors and local communities may soon have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see or hear a magnificent wolf pack.

“It is vital that wolf advocates and state managers continue to work alongside ranchers, farmers, and anyone apprehensive about this change so that wolves are given a chance to thrive and coexist with humans once again.”

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit