Yellowstone wolf drifts into Colo.
Colorado’s known wolf population grew by one — to one — this week when a wolf wandered into the state from southwest Montana.
The wolf, an 18-month old female known as 314F, is being tracked by a Global Positioning Satellite collar she wears.
According to researchers, the wolf separated from her pack north of Yellowstone National Park in September and since then has logged at least 1,000 miles on her dog-legged route across five states to her last-known location in Eagle County.
“Young wolves often cover remarkable distances looking for a mate and a new territory,” Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington said. “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 yet.”
Satellite data indicates 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 first confirmed Yellowstone Park wolf seen in Colorado also was a young female. It was killed by a vehicle on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs in June 2004.
Another unconfirmed sighting was reported in 2007 near Walden when a wolf-like animal was seen and recorded on video. That animal was not wearing a radio collar, and the footage was insufficient to make a positive identification.
“We occasionally get unconfirmed reports of wolf sightings,” said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Northwest Region of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “Even though we aren’t able to confirm these reports, we take each one seriously.”
The grey wolf is listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act and may not be killed or harassed without federal approval. Colorado’s wolf policy adopted in 2004 allows for naturally returning wolves to move freely throughout the state as long as they don’t come in conflict with people or livestock.
Grey wolves were eliminated from Colorado by the late 1930s. Prior to 2004, the last known wolf or wolf-hybrid was killed in Colorado by a government trapper in 1943.