February 25, 2009
Eagle County, CO – A Yellowstone wolf dispersing from
her pack in southwestern Montana is now wandering the Colorado
high country after a journey of perhaps 1,000 miles, Colorado
Division of Wildlife officials announced today.
The global positioning satellite collar attached to the
18-month-old female indicated her last known position was in Eagle
County. She separated from her pack just north of the Yellowstone
National Park boundary in September and has now traveled across
five states, federal biologists said.
“Young wolves often cover remarkable distances looking for a mate
and a new territory,” said DOW director Tom Remington. “If this
wolf doesn’t find a pack, she’ll likely keep moving. We’ve seen at
least one Yellowstone wolf in Colorado before, but we have no
reason to believe that wolves have established a pack in the state
The gray wolf is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species
Act and may not be killed or harassed without federal approval.
Colorado’s wolf policy allows for wolves to move freely throughout
the state as long as they don’t come in conflict with people or
The wolf roaming Colorado, known as 314F, was a member of the Mill
Creek Pack when she was caught and collared by Montana Fish,
Wildlife & Parks as part of a research effort with the University
of Montana to improve wolf monitoring techniques. The data
provided by her collar has allowed researchers to track her epic
journey across an enormous chunk of the Rocky Mountain region.
According to satellite data, the wolf passed south through
Yellowstone National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in
western Wyoming southeast of Pinedale. She then traversed widely
through southwestern Wyoming and wandered through southeast Idaho
and northeastern Utah before crossing into Colorado within the
past two weeks. The wolf is now 450 miles from its origin, but has
traveled at least 1,000 miles overall.
The last confirmed wolf in Colorado also came from Yellowstone.
The young female was killed by a vehicle on Interstate 70 near
Idaho Springs in June, 2004. In 2007, video footage of a black,
wolf-like canid was taken near Walden, CO, in the North Park area.
While this footage was highly suggestive, the animal was not
wearing a radio collar and its identity could not be verified. The
DOW has received other reports of wolf sightings throughout the
state in recent years. None have been confirmed.
Wolves generally disperse within 60 miles of their pack, although
biologists have documented approximately 10 wolves since 1992 that
traveled in excess of 190 miles in search of a mate. The actual
number of long-distance dispersers may be higher; less than 30
percent of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population has been
radio-collared. None of the long-distance dispersing wolves from
the northern Rocky Mountain population have successfully formed
packs or bred. Lone wolves typically have low survival rates
outside of occupied wolf range.
Native populations of gray wolves were extirpated from Colorado by
the late 1930's. Prior to 2004, the last known record of an
individual wolf killed in Colorado was in 1943.
However, wolf biologists expect that dispersers from the
Yellowstone area, Idaho and Montana will continue to attempt to
reestablish populations in suitable portions of their former
range. In 2004, the Colorado Division of Wildlife adopted a wolf
management plan when and if wolves may try to naturally recolonize
the state. The policy establishes that wolves may roam freely in
Colorado unless they come into conflict with people or livestock.
Such conflicts would be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in consultation with the DOW.
Colorado has no plans to reintroduce the wolf.
As a listed endangered species, wolves may not be harassed,
pursued, hunted, shot, captured, trapped or killed, nor may any
member of the public engage in such conduct unless a wolf poses a
legitimate threat to human safety. The DOW reminds hunters and the
general public that they should exercise additional caution to
ensure this wolf is not mistaken for a coyote.
“The Division of Wildlife relies on the public to help us track
wolf sightings,” said Shane Briggs, a wildlife conservation
specialist with the agency. “Potential wolf sightings should be
reported to the DOW immediately.” A report form is posted on the
Division of Wildlife Website.