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DENVER – It’s becoming more likely that you might see gray wolves in Colorado and officials are reminding people that it is a crime to kill them.

The wolf population is growing in nearby states and they are known to travel long distances, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.

There has been an increase in reports of wolves in Colorado recently and several confirmed sightings over the past several years, officials said.

CPW issued a statement Monday reminding people that gray wolves are still protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

Killing a wolf or any endangered species can result in serious penalties, including criminal charges, a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000, officials warned.

“Whether you are a trapper, or an elk hunter, deer hunter, coyote hunter or a landowner protecting livestock from predators, you must be sure of your target before you take any animal,” CPW Director Bob Broscheid said. “Identifying the target and the species you are hunting is critical and a major tenet of safe and ethical hunting.”

A hunter mistakenly killed what he thought was a coyote a few miles north of Kremling in April 2015.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose to not charge the hunter after their investigation determined he was hunting legally, did not intentionally kill the wolf and immediately reported the incident to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials,” officials said.

The public is urged to report any sighting of wolves in Colorado by filling out the online Wolf Sighting Form.