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'Significant finding': Scat samples confirm wolves in Colorado

Gray wolf
Posted at 12:10 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 14:15:19-05

MOFFAT COUNTY — Four scat samples collected in Moffat County last month confirm the presence of wolves in northwest Colorado, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

At the beginning of the year, a scavenged elk carcass was discovered near Irish Canyon and scat samples near the elk carcass were tested and confirmed that they came from wolves. The four samples revealed they came from three female wolves and one male wolf, most likely siblings.

Parks and Wildlife said this discovery is the first documentation of wolves in Colorado since the 1940s.

“The DNA doesn’t tell us the age,” said CPW Species Conservation Program Manager Eric Odell in a release. “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.”

Witnesses near this area in October 2019 said they saw six large wolves traveling together. Odell said that "just because we only collected four scat samples doesn't mean there were only four animals" and that their estimate of wolves in the area does not change. The team has more scat samples they are testing from another wolf sighting.

Wildlife officers investigated an animal carcass surrounded by large, wolf-like tracks in the northwest corner of Moffat County on Jan. 19. The officers reported that while they were conducting their investigation in the field, they heard distinct howls in the area.

"Right after our two officers heard the howls from the wolves, they used binoculars to observe approximately six wolves about two miles from the location of the carcass," said CPW Northwest Region Manager JT Romatzke. "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.”

According to the US 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 and fill out a report if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity in Colorado.

The wolf sighting form can be found here.

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