One day after a measure to reintroduce wolves was placed on this year’s ballot, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says a likely wolf pack was confirmed in the state.
CPW said an eyewitness reported six large canids — a term that can describe wolves, jackals, foxes, coyote and domestic dogs — traveling together. Plus, a scavenged elk a few miles from the sighting in northwest Colorado ”strongly suggests a pack of gray wolves may now be residing in Colorado.”
“The sighting marks the first time in recent history CPW has received a report of multiple wolves traveling together,” CPW Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke said in a Wednesday release.
Romatzke said in the days prior to the late October sighting in Moffat County, the eyewitness reported hearing “distinct howls coming from different animals. In my opinion, this is a very credible report.”
The eyewitness said his hunting party observed the wolves near the state’s Wyoming and Utah borders. One of the party caught two of the six animals on video.
November election: Initiative to introduce gray wolves makes Colorado ballot
After learning of the scavenged elk carcass, CPW initiated an investigation. At the kill site, officers observed several large canid tracks from multiple animals that are consistent with those made by wolves. The condition of the elk carcass was consistent with known wolf predation, according to CPW.
Romatzke said the most recent sighting of what appears to be wolves traveling together is what can be best described as a pack and adds “to other credible reports of wolf activity in Colorado over the past several years.”
The Craig Daily Press filed an inquiry with CPW in early January, citing a report from hunters in Irish Canyon who said they found a bull elk carcass “ripped to pieces.” According to that report, filed in late December, the hunting party found large, dog-type tracks around the carcass, leading the hunters to believe it was from wolves.
Previous reports of wolves in Colorado include tracks, howls, photos and videos. DNA testing confirmed the presence of one wolf a few years ago, and “in a recent case, we have photos and continue to track a wolf with a collar from Wyoming’s Snake River pack,” Romatzke said.
“It is inevitable, based on known wolf behavior, that they would travel here from states where their populations are well-established,” Romatzke said. “We have no doubt that they are here, and the most recent sighting of what appears to be wolves traveling together in what can be best described as a pack is further evidence of the presence of wolves in Colorado.”
This week’s news about a wolf pack comes as Colorado voters get ready to decide whether to direct the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to devise a plan to introduce wolves on public land west of the Continental Divide before 2024.
The ballot measure, championed by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, will appear on the November ballot. Advocates have said they would like to eventually see 250 wolves in Colorado. Details of the reintroduction are left to be ironed out by the state.
“Wolves are in grave danger, looking at social media comments (regarding the recent announcement), and why it is even more urgent to pass initiative 107,” said Rob Edward, president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund board. “The bottom line is this shows a connectivity to the Northern Rockies and why reintroduction is the right thing to do. We need a planning process to get on with recovering wolves.”
Colorado ranchers and some sportsmen organizations oppose the initiative to reintroduce wolves into Colorado. One rancher previously told the Coloradoan he doesn’t oppose a natural return of wolves to the state.
Wolf reintroduction proponents “have falsely claimed that there are no wolves present in Colorado. … The news from CPW today implodes their propaganda,” said Denny Behrens, co-chairman of the Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition.
“The forced introduction of non-native gray wolves will be like throwing gas on a campfire,” Behrens said.
In regard to the wolf pack, Romatzke said CPW will continue to operate under the agency’s current management direction, which is to not take direct action.
“We want to remind the public that wolves are federally endangered species and fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” he said. “As wolves move into the state on their own, we will work with our federal partners to manage the species.”
The public is urged to contact CPW immediately if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on at https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/SOC-Wolves.aspx.
Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life — be it news, outdoors, sports, you name it he wants to report it. Have a story idea, send it his way. Email him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter at @MilesBlumhardt.
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