CRAIG — Four scat samples collected in early January near a scavenged elk carcass near Irish Canyon in Moffat County confirmed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife Thursday that wolves are present in Northwest Colorado.
CPW biologists received notification from a genetics lab confirming that four scat samples collected near a scavenged elk carcass in Moffat County in early January came from wolves. According to the agency, this is the first official documentation of a pack of wolves in the state since the 1940s.
DNA results from the four samples returned to CPW indicate that three of the wolves are female and one is male. The testing was also able to determine that all the wolves were related, likely as full siblings, according to the agency.
“The DNA doesn’t tell us the age,” CPW Species Conservation Program Manager Eric Odell said. “We don’t know where or when they were born. We can’t say. But that there are closely related wolves is a pretty significant finding.”
Odell also added that “although previous reports had mentioned sightings of up to six wolves, this doesn’t do anything to alter that estimate. Just because we only collected four scat samples doesn’t mean there were only four animals.”
The agency is currently waiting to receive results back from scat samples collected at a another potential wolf sighting in Moffat County on January 19, where CPW wildlife officers investigated the discovery of an animal carcass surrounded by large wolf-like tracks in the northwest corner of Moffat County. While conducting their investigation in the field, wildlife officers were surprised when they heard distinct howls within the area.
CPW would like to remind the public that wolves are a federally endangered species and fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, killing a wolf can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, per offense.
The public is urged to contact CPW immediately if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on the CPW website.
For more information about wolves, visit the CPW website.