Three pups born in Colorado made history. Gray wolves, while no longer on the endangered species list, are still very rare—and protected in Colorado. A plan to reintroduce them to the area has been both controversial and slow. Wildlife officials tracking a pair of what they thought to be hunting partners this spring found out the wolves had a different kind of partnership when they showed up with a litter of pups, the New York Times reports. Officials saw three babies, but it’s possible there are more, as a typical wolf litter is made up of four to six pups. Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement last week welcoming the new wolf family to Colorado.
Gray wolves were hunted out of existence in Colorado and much of the American west in the 1940s, per CNN. They’re rebounding, but these pups are the first spotted in the state in 80 years. Wildlife officials will monitor the new family—from a distance, to protect their habitat. And they’ll continue to hope more wolves return. The ballot measure to bring back wolves by 2023 squeaked by in a tight vote, and it comes with a promise to reimburse ranchers if any livestock are killed. A couple states away, Idaho is moving in the opposite direction with a plan to kill most of the state’s wolves, per the Times. (Read more wolves stories.)