State has no plans to bring back wolverines

The young male wolverine known as M56 is unlikely to get any company in the Colorado high country for a year at least.

U.S. Forest Service officials Thursday told a Club 20 committee that any thought of reintroducing the animal, which last had been seen in the state in 1919 before M56 showed up in 2009, will have to be approved by the Legislature.

That’s unlikely to take place during the current session, Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Theo Stein said.

While the wildlife division is interested in reintroducing the wolverine, “We are not reintroducing it at any cost,” Stein said. “We had always intended to talk to the Legislature about a proposal, but we’re not in a position to be ready to do that.”

State wildlife officials still have a lot of questions about how to deal with the animal, which lives above treeline at 10,500 feet and higher and generally eats marmots or scavenges the remains of larger animals, such as elk, moose or mountain goats.

The wolverine’s high-country habitat is mostly on lands managed by the Forest Service, so federal officials must be consulted, Stein said.

Sightings of wolverines in Colorado have matched with the known travels of M56, which has an implanted transponder in his belly, Stein said.

That leads officials to believe M56 is the only wolverine in the Centennial State. M56 traveled to the state from Togwotee pass in Wyoming, a distance of some 500 miles across busy freeways such as interstates 80 and 70.

The animals are hardy and solitary creatures and weigh approximately 30 pounds.

The Division of Wildlife will first discuss any plans to reintroduce the wolverine to Colorado with the Wildlife Commission, then the Legislature.

“We’re going to be exploring the issues deliberately and diligently,” Stein said. “This is not a biological question, it’s a social question, and we’re not going to go forward if we feel the project will have significant impacts.”


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