Forget the ballot: Wolves are already in northwest Colorado

Wolves from Yellowstone National Park's Eight Mile Pack, whose territory is located near the northern boundary of the park, make their way along a snowy path.
Courtesy photo

While the state of Colorado formally announced that the reintroduction of wolves to the centennial state will be on the 2020 ballot, wolves in the northwest portion of the United States certainly aren’t waiting for voter approval to enter Colorado.

The Craig Press filed an inquiry with Colorado Parks and Wildlife in early January, citing a report from hunters in Irish Canyon that they found a bull elk carcass, located in Game Management Units 201-202, “ripped to pieces.” According to that report to CPW in late December, the hunting party found large, dog-type tracks around the carcass, leading the hunters to believe it was from wolves.

CPW officers came in to investigate and took samples to send to the lab to confirm what they found.

Monday afternoon, Northwest Region CPW Public Information Officer Mike Porras confirmed to the Craig Press that the tracks were indeed from wolves.

“At the site, CPW officers observed several large canid tracks from multiple animals surrounding the carcass,” Porras said. “The tracks are consistent with those made by wolves. In addition, the condition of the carcass is consistent with known wolf predation.”

This isn’t the first known sighting of wolves in the Game Management Units, according to Porras. In October 2019, a hunting party a few miles from the location of the recently-found scavenged elk carcass, observed approximately six large canids traveling in a group. 

The hunting party captured video of two of the wolves from that pack.

Due to the sighting in October and the tracks around the bull elk’s carcass in late December, CPW officials are confident a wolf pack appears to be active in northwest Colorado. According to Porras, CPW believes the pack consists of at least six wolves.

CPW is continuing its investigation into this incident, Porras said. The public is urged to contact CPW immediately if they see or hear wolves, or find evidence of any wolf activity.

During Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioner’s meeting, District 2 commissioner Ray Beck brought attention to the CPW report of wolves in northwest Colorado.

Despite the confirmation of wolves in northwest Colorado, and the announcement Monday that the reintroduction of wolves to Colorado will be on the 2020 ballot state-wide, Beck was quick to point out that Moffat County was never for the reintroduction.

“Moffat County was the first county in the state to adopt a resolution in opposition to the reintroduction of wolves to Colorado last summer,” Beck said.

District 1 commissioner Don Cook was concerned what wolves will do to hunting and overall recreation in Game Management Units 201-202.

“They’re going to kill whatever they can,” Cook said. “That’s probably going to have an impact on the hunting and recreation in that area, sooner rather than later.”

Aside from the recent sightings in Moffat County, a collared wolf was spotted northwest of Fort Collins near Walden in July 2019, marking the first time a wolf was spotted in Colorado in four years.

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