MEEKER, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said Tuesday that investigators can't determine the cause of death of cow calves in Rio Grande County last year and the investigation is being closed.
In October, CPW said it was investigating a report of 18 dead domestic cow calves on White River National Forest land near Meeker, some of which were thought to have possibly been killed by wolves.
CPW's initial investigation revealed three to five of the calves had injuries consistent with wolf kills. The deaths were believed to have happened over the course of about two weeks, in an area spanning a few miles. More dead cattle were found later, for a total of at least 40.
>The video above is from November.
Investigators could not determine the exact cause of death for the calves, which had hide damage consistent with a canine attack.
CPW Northwest Region Manager Travis Black said that there was no evidence wolves were ever in the area.
The discovery of a pack of nine dogs harassing wildlife seven miles from the livestock incident caused investigators to question whether wolves were in the area. CPW said it is working with the Rio Blanco Sheriff's Office to deal with any domestic dog issues on a case-by-case basis.
“Although a few cattle showed wounds consistent with injuries from large canines, further investigation to collect additional evidence has yielded no confirmation of wolves in the area,” Black said.
“Based on the hide damage and muscle trauma to the animals, we believe these few cattle were likely killed, or injured and died later, by some species of canine larger than coyotes,” Black said. “But we do not have specific evidence to determine what species of canid caused the depredations. The 90-day window allowed for producers to provide proof of loss has expired, so the investigation is being closed.”
The owner of the livestock released a statement thanking investigators.
“The Klinglesmith family would like to thank the local DWMs and veterinary staff for the many hours spent in the field and in the office investigating this incident,” Lenny Klinglesmith said.
CPW said the Klinglesmith family will not pursue further compensation due to the lack of evidence of wolves in the area.
The livestock producer and livestock veterinarians continue to investigate potential health components and mitigation efforts beyond the initial report of depredation, CPW said.
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