Wolverines Could Make Grand Return to Colorado

Special to the Daily/National Parks Service The largest member of the weasel family, wolverines are fierce hunters, feeding on small rodents and even weakened caribou.

Wolverine Reintroduction Bill Passes in State Senate

Trevor Phipps


Just as controversy looms across the state surrounding the recent wolf reintroductions to Colorado, state lawmakers are now pushing to bring another carnivorous animal, the wolverine, back to the state. But supporters of the new initiative promise the public that reintroducing wolverines will be completely different than what happened with the recent wolf reintroductions.


During this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 24-171 called “Restoration of Wolverines” to bring the animals back to the state after they were eradicated in the early 1900s due to trapping and hunting. Although the bill’s sponsors have said that reintroducing wolverines won’t bring as much controversy as wolves, the bill does look similar to the ballot proposition that brought wolves back to Colorado last year.


If passed, the bill would allow the reintroduction of 100 to 180 wolverines to the state. The bill also requires the parks and wildlife commission to adopt rules to compensate owners in the case of any livestock deaths.


However, according to the bill’s sponsors, wolverines are in the weasel family and they are nothing like wolves. “Wolverines themselves are not a major threat to agriculture or to any community at all.” One of the bill’s sponsors Sen. Dylan Roberts, D- Frisco told Colorado Politics. “They prey mostly on dead animals and they don’t interact with livestock. They live at such high altitude that it will be rare for anybody to ever see a wolverine.”


The reasons surrounding the reintroduction also have a similar tune to the wolf reintroduction. Since wolverines once called Colorado home, many think that they should come back to the state since they are slowly becoming extinct and the state contains several high altitude habitats that wolverines like to live in.


According to one of the bill’s State House sponsors Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, the return of wolverines will bring back a balance to the state’s ecosystem. “They used to be here for a very long time and then, with trapping and shooting and all this stuff, they went away, and they belong here,” McLachlan said, according to Colorado Politics. “They’re native species to Colorado, and I look forward to getting them back here. We just have to make sure that people know they’re not wolves.”


The bill passed in the State Senate on April 17 and it was introduced to the House Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee shortly after. It has not yet been said exactly where the wolverines will be released, only that wolverines prefer high altitude habitats.


Currently it is not known whether Teller County will be on the list of locations where wolverines get released, but its high mountainous terrain could prove to be a prime location. Therefore, if this bill is passed there is a good chance that wolverines could end up in Teller County one day just like wolves could eventually call the Ute Pass Region home.