A series of attacks over the past two weeks has ranchers worried about the pack of wolves they believe migrated south from Wyoming.
Walden, Colorado – There are a lot of spaces in Jackson County.
After Carlos Atencio has a new neighbor who is causing big problems.
“They’ve really got hundreds of thousands of acres to roam here. They’ve been in our own backyard. They don’t get along with us at all,” said Atensio, whose farm is nearly 11,000 acres outside Walden.
Over the past few weeks, a pack of wolves that ranchers believe migrated from Wyoming have killed several cows and a dog in the area.
The deaths come as Colorado prepares to reintroduce wolves to the state after voters approved its November 2020 ballot initiative.
A herd of wolves appeared at Atencio’s farm two weeks ago.
“It was a Sunday morning,” Atencio said. “I got up really early, at five in the morning, I heard something on the porch, and Izzy was already sitting there at the door, which is very rare.”
Izzy, one of Atencio’s working dogs, survived. Buster, his other dog, was found nearby.
RELATED: Collie Border Rancher dies in wolf attack
“We found the body of my dead dog Buster,” Atensio said. “They did the investigation. It’s clear. There were traces of wolves everywhere.”
The wolf pack has ranchers outside Walden sounding an alarm about animals that have migrated through Wyoming.
Colorado plans to begin reintroducing more wolves in the coming years.
“It’s going to be a problem not just with cattle and livestock, it’s going to be a problem with pets,” Atensio said. “He ate my dog.”
Don Gittleson rode up the valley from Atensio. The prints he detects from wolves around his possessions are about the size of his shoes.
He said that one wolf has been in the area for years. Now the package has been formed.
“Just one in and of itself wasn’t a problem,” Gittleson said. “But once there’s a group, it’s a huge problem.”
Gittleson’s cows fell victim.
Colorado ranchers are not allowed to shoot wolves. The state recently allowed them to use non-lethal weapons to try to scare them, and flags to try to deter them. Gittleson chose to keep his guard all night.
“We have three animals that were either killed or had to get rid of the animals and the fourth was injured,” Gittleson said. “We go out around midnight because they haven’t come here before. They usually go before the first light. In that time frame, we stay up all night.”
The state compensates farm owners for livestock killed by wolves. Cattlemen say this does not include calves that were killed before they were born.
Gray wolves are an endangered species in Colorado. This is why ranchers cannot shoot and kill them, unless in self-defense. If they do, they could be fined up to $100,000, in prison for a year, and forfeit their hunting license privileges for life.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife must develop a plan to bring wolves back into the state by the end of 2023, according to a passed ballot initiative.
As Eazy recovers, ranchers in Jackson County know that not all of that space is always enough for everyone.
“They tore her belly a little bit,” Atensio said. “Her member is well on her hamstrings. She has a few bite marks above her.” “We’ve had our wolves, we’ve had our bears and our mountain lions and other things. But wolves are an entirely different beast.”
RELATED: CPW Confirms Calf Killed by Wolves on Ranch in Northern Colorado
RELATED: No, Wolves That Killed a Calf in Colorado Aren’t Here Because of Prop 114
Suggested videos: Latest from 9NEWS