Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials are confirming that they have additional evidence that a group of wolves is now residing in northwest Colorado. This marks the second indication that wolves have returned to the area this month.
On January 19th, CPW wildlife officers investigated the discovery of an animal carcass surrounded by large wolf-like tracks in the northwest corner of Moffat County. While conducting their investigation in the field, they made an attempt to locate the wolves. In their search, they heard distinct howls in the area. Officers used binoculars to observe approximately six wolves about two miles from the location of the carcass.
“This is a historic sighting. While lone wolves have visited our state periodically including last fall, this is very likely the first pack to call our state home since the 1930’s,” Governor Jared Polis said in a statement. “It is important that Coloradans understand that the gray wolf is under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. While the animals have naturally migrated to our state and their presence draws public interest, it is important that people give them space. Due to their protected status, there are severe federal penalties for anyone that intentionally harms or kills wolves in our state.”
JT Romatzke, Northwest Region Manager for CPW explained that when the officers drove to where they observed the wolves, the animals were gone but large tracks remained in the area.
According to the officers, the tracks measured approximately 4.5 to 5.5 inches and appear to have been made by at least six animals.
“As we have made clear, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will not take direct action in these cases,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We have experts on wildlife management and species recovery working for our agency, but while wolves remain federally protected, they are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We will continue to work with our federal partners and monitor the situation.”
A signature-driven measure to re-introduce gray wolves in the state by the end of 2023 was recently placed on this year’s ballot.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, killing a wolf can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, per offense.
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