PRESS RELEASE: Colorado Legislature Passes Historic Bill to Restore Wolverines to Colorado

Bipartisan bill authorizes Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reintroduce wolverines to Colorado

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For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2024

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

A wolverine jumping in the snow

Denver, CO – After a more than 100 year absence, wolverines are poised to return to Colorado. On Friday,  SB24-171 passed the House on a bipartisan 51-13 vote after previously making it through the Senate on a bipartisan 29-5 vote in April.  Sponsored by Senator Perry Will (R), Senator Dylan Roberts (D), Representative McLachlan (D) and Representative Mauro (D), the legislation will facilitate the development of a 10(j) rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to reintroduce North American Wolverines to Colorado. 

“This is a huge win for wolverines and for Colorado’s wildlife,” said Megan Mueller, Conservation Biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild. “It’s amazing to see such broad, bipartisan support and recognition of the importance of bringing wolverines back to Colorado.”

Colorado’s wolverine population went extinct due to unregulated trapping and poisoning in the early 1900s, and across the lower 48, their population has diminished, leaving less than 400 animals. Because of this decline, last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed wolverines as a threatened species under the ESA, and under Colorado law, legislative approval is required for any federally listed species to be reintroduced in the state.

In addition to its sponsors, Colorado Parks and Wildlife was a lead supporter of the bill, in addition to a number of Colorado ski areas represented by Colorado Ski Country USA, including Vail Resorts, County Commissioners Acting Together, and thirty-eight wildlife conservation organizations, including several sporting groups.

“Wolverines are part of Colorado’s natural heritage, and the widespread support wolverine reintroduction has garnered demonstrates how much Coloradoans unite behind wildlife,” said Stefan Ekernas, Director of Colorado Field Conservation at Denver Zoo. 

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. According to CPW’s estimates, Colorado could support 100-180 wolverines, which could increase the current population 20 percent or more. 

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. 

“We realize this is just the beginning of what will be a multi-year process,” said Michael Dax, western program director for Wildlands Network. “But we couldn’t be more excited for wolverines to once again call Colorado’s snowy slopes home.”

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.


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