By Matt Kroschel
DIVIDE, Colo. (CBS4) – People who call the small town of Divide home are accustomed to seeing plenty of wildlife. But it’s an endangered Mexican grey wolf on the prowl that has everyone talking.
The wolf escaped from the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center on Nov. 11, the same day the wolf arrived. The animal remains missing but tracks were found on Friday that are believed to have been left by the wolf.
Inside Divide’s Venture Foods grocery store, people continue to discuss the mystery surrounding the missing wolf. Employees say the animal’s travels come up with just about every conversation.
“We haven’t had anyone spot it and it has been several weeks now,” said Josh Cunico, the store manager at Venture Foods.
The wolf was being relocated to the center to breed with other captive wolves in hopes of breeding pups to be released into the wild. It escaped through a hole in a fence at the facility, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Trappers from the agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have set out multiple traps in hopes of recapturing it. But, so far no luck.
Cunico said there’s a lot of concern for livestock and people’s pets with the wolf out there.
“We have three dogs and are worried to let them out with that wolf out there,” he said. “He’s probably hungry.”
Based on the tracks found Friday, officers believe the wolf moved northwest from the wildlife center in Divide, about 55 miles south of Denver.
According to Fish and Wildlife biologists, the wolf is not considered a threat to humans but could become defensive if it feels threatened. The wolf was not wearing a collar.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is reintroducing Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, a program bringing together breeding facilities across the West. They report fewer than 200 wolves remain in the wild in the two states.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, wild wolves are not known to live in Colorado. However, the animals do enter the state from neighboring states and have been documented in the area. One wolf was recently killed by a hunter when it was mistaken for a coyote near Kremmling in Grand County.