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Rancher's border collie dies in wolf attack

The deadly attack in Jackson County is not the result of wolf reintroduction. Officials believe the animals traveled into the state from Wyoming.

JACKSON COUNTY, Colorado — One of a rancher's border collies was killed and a second was wounded in a wolf attack in Jackson County over the weekend, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) confirmed.

The incident was reported at about 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 9 by a rancher in the North Park area, CPW said. The wildlife district manager (DWM) was told that the remains of one dog had been located on a ranch and another dog was hurt.

RELATED: CPW confirms calf killed by wolves on northern Colorado ranch

The DWM responded and conducted a field investigation.

“The results of this investigation indicated wolf tracks in the immediate vicinity of the carcass and wounds on the dog carcass consistent with wolf depredation,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf.

Since the dogs were "working dogs" that helped herd animals on the property, the rancher will be reimbursed for his loss, according to CPW.

"They weren't just working dogs," the dogs' owner, rancher Carlos Atencio, said. "We loved on them and spent as much time with them as possible."

Atencio said 8-year-old Buster saved 10-year-old Izzy's life. 

"Bus kind of saved her life," he said. "They were pretty good buddies. He put up enough of a fight where she escaped enough to get to the house." 

Atencio said Izzy is recovering and will be fine. He said they also lost a dog back in December, and at the time, they blamed coyotes.

CPW will handle reimbursement of the incident under its current game damage process as if the depredation occurred by mountain lions or bears. CPW is in the process of formalizing an official process for damage by wolves.

Depredation compensation is required by statute, and the final Colorado compensation plan will be part of the overall Gray Wolf planning process.

Just last month, a domestic calf on a ranch in Jackson County in the same area was killed by wolves. The Colorado Cattlemen's Association said that was the first confirmed instance of livestock being killed by wolves in Colorado in more than 70 years. 

CPW said they will also reimburse the calf's owner.

RELATED: Wildlife officials to consider gray wolf hazing measure for livestock owners

Colorado voters in 2020 narrowly passed Proposition 114, which directs CPW to create a statewide wolf restoration and management program by the end of 2023. The compensation plan will be created as part of that planning process, CPW said.

But the wolves involved in the kills were not reintroduced to Colorado under Proposition 114. In fact, no wolves at all have been reintroduced so far under the initiative.

RELATED: No, the wolves that killed a calf in Colorado aren't here because of Prop 114

Wolves occasionally cross state lines. CPW identified as many as six wolves in Colorado in 2020. This past summer, wildlife officials confirmed that two wolves that had dispersed to Colorado had mated and produced a litter of pups in Jackson County.

A CPW spokesperson said the agency expects a draft plan for reintroduction by late 2022 or early 2023, which will be followed by a public comment period.

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