Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Wednesday confirmed a gray wolf was spotted in Jackson County – the state’s first sighting since 2015.
Photos that circulated social media earlier this week indeed showed the animal that hasn’t roamed Colorado in significant numbers in almost 75 years. The wolf, seen with a tracking collar around its neck, hails from a pack centered around Snake River, officials said.
The canine is a 3-year-old male, said Sara DiRienzo, a spokeswoman for Wyoming Game and Fish.
“It’s not uncommon for a wolf to travel a far distance, especially if they’re trying to find new territory,” she said.
And it’s not uncommon for one to appear in Colorado, straying for a long pilgrimage here where the species ran free until the 1940s. The native predators were wiped out amid an outcry over lost livestock.
Before Jackson County’s rogue traveler, the state last identified a wolf four years ago when a hunter killed on, mistaking it for a coyote near Kremmling. One was found dead, poisoned, in 2009 in Rio Blanco County. And five years before that, one was hit and killed by a car on Interstate 70.
Rebecca Farrell, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s spokesperson for endangered species, said about 100 sightings are reported every year but “a vast majority” go unverified. The agency has yet to confirm another recent sighting in Grand County, just south of the wolf seen near Walden.
The news is enough to disturb Denny Behrens of Grand Junction. He represents the Stop the Wolf Coalition comprised of big-game hunters and ranchers who fiercely oppose calls for the animal to be reintroduced in the state.
“It just seems to me, if you’ve got two wolf sightings within a week or two, and they’re two different wolves in two different areas, that leads me to believe we’ve got some established pack or packs going on.”
But CPW has no reason to believe that, Farrell said. “We have no evidence at this point of any kind.”
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