Gray wolves howl home to Colorado

Serena Bettis

Most loud sounds heard around Fort Collins late at night are typically from partying college kids or trains — not wild animals. 

This is not the case for Coloradans living in Moffat County, where Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials confirmed a wolf pack sighting Jan. 19, according to a Jan. 22 press release

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The wolves were gone, but they found plenty of large tracks in the area.” -JT Romatzke, northwest region manager, CPW

During the investigation of an animal carcass surrounded by wolf-like tracks, CPW officers attempted to locate the wolves and heard distinct howls in the area. The press release said they observed six wolves through binoculars about 2 miles away from the carcass. 

“After watching them for about 20 minutes, the officers rode in to get a closer look,” said JT Romatzke, CPW northwest region manager, in the press release. “The wolves were gone, but they found plenty of large tracks in the area.” 

    Gray wolves have not inhabited Colorado since roughly the 1930s when, according to the CPW website, they were “systematically eradicated” through trapping, shooting and poisoning to keep them from killing livestock.

    Initiative 107, which will be on the November 2020 state ballot, proposes the reintroduction of gray wolves onto designated lands west of the Continental Divide. The initiative would require a CPW commission to implement a plan to restore and manage gray wolves; prohibit the commission from imposing any land, water or resource restrictions on private landowners; and fairly compensate owners for losses of livestock caused by gray wolves.

    “We’re pretty convinced that they’re at least making themselves somewhat at home in that spot,” CPW Public Informations Officer Rebecca Ferrell told FOX31 Denver. 

    The wolves were spotted in northwest Moffat County, which is about 300 miles away from Fort Collins. It is possible the wolves came from neighboring Wyoming or Utah, though CPW has not released any information on that matter.

    Wolves are capable of traveling long distances, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, meaning they even could have traveled from a Montana or Idaho Wolf Recovery Area

    We’re pretty convinced that they’re at least making themselves somewhat at home in that spot.” -Rebecca Ferrell, CPW public informations officer

    The press release said that while wolves remain federally protected, they are also under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The gray wolf is still considered an endangered species by FWS, and killing a wolf can result in federal charges. 

    CPW urges the public to immediately contact them if anyone sees or hears wolves or finds any evidence of wolf activity in Colorado. CPW’s website has a wolf sighting form that must be filled out on a computer and not a mobile device.  

    Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb

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