MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed Wednesday that a pack of gray wolves is living in the northwest part of the state.
CPW says that on Jan. 19, two wildlife officers investigated an animal carcass surrounded by large wolf-like tracks in northwest Moffat County.
“While conducting their investigation in the field, wildlife officers were surprised when they heard distinct howls within the area,” CPW said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Shortly after the wildlife officers heard the howls, using binoculars, they saw about six wolves roughly two miles from the carcass.
“After watching them for about 20 minutes, the officers rode in to get a closer look. The wolves were gone but they found plenty of large tracks in the area,” CPW said.
Officers reported the tracks were about 4.5 to 5.5 inches across.
Gov. Jared Polis called the sighting “historic.”
“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 1930s. I am honored to welcome our canine friends back to Colorado after their long absence,” said Polis in the CPW statement. “It’s 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’s 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.”
CPW says it will not take direct action, as wolves are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Recent discussions about wolves have been controversial in Colorado. While there is a proposal to reintroduce wolves to the state, six rural communities recently approved a resolution opposing the idea.
Killing a wolf can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison.
CPW asks anyone who sees or hears a wolf to file a report via the agency’s website.