By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeing an increase in the number of potential wolf sightings in the state. Wildlife officials say this may be due to warmer weather and more people recreating outdoors.

In northwest Colorado, CPW continues to monitor the state’s first known pack of wolves since the 1930s. The pack was originally reported to CPW late last year.

In March, CPW found six wolves in Moffat County following a sighting from a nearby resident. The wolves were located several miles south of tracks found in January.

Wolf pack tracks in Moffat County (credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Officials say the pack has been relatively quiet. Wildlife managers were able to recently capture an image of a lone wolf feeding on an elk carcass in the area. It’s unknown if the wolf is a member of a pack or alone in the area.

A wolf eats an elk carcass in northwest Colorado. (credit: CPW)

Through feces samples, CPW biologists and veterinarians have determined that several members of the pack in northwest Colorado are positive for eggs of a specific tapeworm that can cause disease. These tapeworms have been found in wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

CPW says reporting possible wolf sightings helps wildlife officials know what’s happening across the state.

“While not all reports end up being verified as wolves, we make every effort to investigate credible sightings through on-the-ground investigations, biological sampling, and deploying a variety of survey techniques,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director of CPW.

CPW reported the following possible wolf sightings:

Wolf “1084M” North Park 
The lone wolf that was first confirmed in North Park one year ago continues to persist in that area. The male wolf, designated by Wyoming Game and Fish as 1084-M, was collared in the Wyoming Snake River pack and dispersed into Colorado where he was first photographed in July, 2019. CPW pilots regularly fly the area and assist in keeping track of 1084’s movements. On the ground, wildlife managers conduct ground surveillance and communicate regularly with private landowners in Jackson County.

Laramie River Valley
Wildlife managers are attempting to confirm a credible wolf sighting in the Laramie River Valley in Larimer County. An animal sighted in the area was wearing a wildlife tracking collar, which indicates it is likely a dispersal wolf from monitored packs in Montana or Wyoming, however flights and ground crews have been unable to detect a signal or visually confirm the wolf. It has been determined that the animal in Larimer County is not wolf 1084-M from neighboring Jackson County. If a wolf or wolves are confirmed in Larimer County, they would be the furthest east in Colorado in nearly a century.

Grand County
Two groups of campers in Grand County over the weekend of June 6-7 were surprised to see a large wolf-like animal in the area in very close proximity to their camps. The incidents were reported to CPW. Wildlife officers and biologists responded to the area to gather biological evidence that could be used to confirm the presence of a wolf versus a coyote, lost or escaped domestic dog or domestic wolf-hybrid. Additional searches and monitoring of the area are continuing. Contacts with local animal control officials confirm no missing hybrids in the area. Biological samples were limited. The animal approaching humans so blatantly is atypical wolf behavior so additional work will be needed to fully confirm the animal’s identity. More information will be provided when available.

Wolves are a federally endangered species in Colorado and all wolf management is under direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Killing a wolf in Colorado is a federal crime and can be punishable with up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

CPW has more information about wolves here. People who see or hear wolves in Colorado are encouraged to report possible sightings here.

Audra Streetman

Comments (2)
  1. Kim says:

    I love my wolf dog. Sweetest ever.

  2. rhonda dern says:

    As the world is gripped in the midst of a pandemic, anti-wolf forces have seized the moment to spread fear and disinformation regarding the potential for wolves to spread diseases, in particular Echinococcus granulosus (a.k.a. “hydatid disease”). All available science makes very clear that wolves pose no significant risk to humans in terms of transmission of hydatid disease.

    A number of reliable sources offer authoritative information about hydatid disease and its effects on humans. One of the most authoritative for now is at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/echinococcosis/gen_info/index.html. Hydatid disease occurs globally, and is endemic in many species of hoofed animals, including domestic sheep. Rarely, people get infected from their dogs, without serious harm.

    The organism is endemic to North American carnivores. Wolf hunters, trappers, and researchers have handled many thousands of wolves, and none of them has been infected. Biologists routinely take rectal temperatures of wolves they handle. Not one has contracted hydatid disease.

    From 1995-2018, Yellowstone hosted 101,070,722 visitors, and none was injured or sickened by a wolf. Among 2.7 million tent campers in Yellowstone from 1995 to 2018, no camper was injured or made ill by a wolf.

    Wolves, rather than posing a threat to our health, will restore the dynamic processes that are essential to healthy, biodiverse ecosystems. Return the wolf, restore the balance.

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