PRESS RELEASE: Colorado Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Restore Wolverines to Colorado

Bipartisan bill would authorize Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reintroduce wolverines to Colorado

RMW Logo
Denver Zoo Horizontal Logo
Wildlands Network Logo

For Immediate Release:
March 4, 2024

Jake Kubié, Denver Zoo, 720-337-1644,
Megan Mueller, Rocky Mountain Wild, 303-704-9760,
Michael Dax, Wildlands Network, (518) 598-3442,

Denver, CO – After a more than 100-year absence, wolverines may be poised to return to Colorado. Today, Senator Perry Will (R), Senator Dylan Roberts (D), Representative McLachlan (D) and Representative Mauro (D), introduced a bipartisan bill (SB24-171) to reintroduce North American Wolverines to Colorado. 

A wolverine stepping from one boulder to another
Wolverine stepping from one stone to another, courtesy of Hans Veth

In November, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed Wolverines as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Colorado’s wolverine population went extinct due to unregulated trapping and poisoning in the early 1900s, but the state continues to be prime habitat for prospective wolverines. Wolverines depend on high alpine habitats and because of this they are vulnerable to climate change. Fortunately, Colorado’s wolverine habitat is projected to stay snowier and colder than other parts of the west.  Colorado has the largest area of unoccupied habitat for wolverines – an estimated 7 million acres, representing 20 percent of all of the habitat in the lower 48.  

“Bringing wolverines back will be a huge win for Colorado’s wildlife and wildlands,” said Stefan Ekernas, Director of Colorado Field Conservation at Denver Zoo. “Denver Zoo supports reintroduction efforts for wolverines that proactively engage communities and stakeholders to unite Coloradoans in bringing this native species back home.”

Wolverines’ ruggedness is legendary. They are alpine specialists who roam vast territories, eat mostly carcasses of dead animals and small mammals, raise their young in deep snow dens, and climb thousands of vertical feet through avalanche chutes. There are fewer than 400 wolverines remaining in the lower 48, but according to CPW’s estimates, Colorado could support 100-180 wolverines, which could increase the current population 20 percent or more. 

“Wolverines are one of the last species that historically called Colorado home that have yet to be restored,” said Megan Mueller, Conservation Biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild. “Bringing wolverines back to Colorado is the best way to give them a chance to survive as the climate changes. We are grateful to see this bipartisan leadership and support for wolverine reintroduction.”

The last wolverine confirmed in Colorado was a male who traveled 500 miles from the Tetons in Wyoming to central Colorado in 2009, and then to North Dakota where he was shot. Female wolverines stay closer to where they were born, active reintroduction would ensure that both female and male wolverines can return to Colorado. 

“No species better symbolizes the importance of connectivity through large, intact landscapes than the wolverine,” said Michael Dax, western program director for Wildlands Network. “Colorado is in a unique position to help recover this iconic species, and we thank Senator Will, Senator Roberts, and the other sponsors for their bipartisan leadership this bill represents.”

The bill would authorize CPW to begin a multi-year reintroduction process that would include reviewing CPW’s existing reintroduction plan and addressing stakeholder concerns.  See for more information.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.