Wolves spotted in Jackson and Grand Counties in recent weeks, with one caught on camera.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is currently in the midst of an investigation into one of two recently reported gray wolf sightings. These could be the first credible wolf sightings in the state in about four years. One was reported in Grand County and the other in Jackson County.
And CPW confirmed on Wednesday that the Jackson County wolf is a "dispersing male gray wolf from WY."
CPW was sent a picture by a private citizen of the gray wolf in Jackson County, about 90 miles west of Fort Collins and near the Colorado State Forest State Park. CPW released the photo on Monday evening.
Officials also stated that they will continue to monitor the area, but they're no longer "actively pursuing the wolf's location." However, CPW is still investigating the report of a gray wolf being spotted in Grand County.
Once gray wolves enter the state, they are federally protected, which is why CPW, along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services, want to locate the wolf – especially since they're an endangered species in Colorado. It's also a federal crime to kill one here.
Gray wolves are actually native to Colorado, but the state has not had free-roaming wolves since the 1940s, when the last of them were killed off. The wolves began to turn to livestock as a food source when all the large mammals, like bison and elk, that made up their food supply were killed by human hunters. That led to an eradication of the gray wolf from the state.
The current population is quite low, though it has rebounded in other states where the animal has been reintroduced to the wild.
Governor Polis shared the news and his excitement about the possible return of the gray wolf to Colorado on Twitter:
Wolves haven’t roamed Colorado since the mid-1940’s. This past weekend, a private citizen captured a wolf on video in Jackson County in northern Colorado. @COParksWildlife officials are working to verify the sighting as well as another in Grand County. pic.twitter.com/H9Z4Jg2Z7w— Jared Polis (@GovofCO) July 9, 2019
Wolves are a part of Colorado’s history and natural landscape, and having them back in their native habitat would mean a lot for the state. What do you think about the recent sightings of the gray wolves? Have you ever seen one in out in the wild? Share with us your thoughts in the comments.
*This story is on-going and will be updated as more information is released.