Federal officials find Yellowstone wolf dead in northwest Colorado
A female gray wolf that wandered into Colorado earlier this year from Yellowstone National Park has been found dead in northwest Colorado.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials confirmed they recovered the carcass of the wolf known as 341F. Satellite tracking data from the radio collar the wolf was wearing indicated the wolf stopped moving in late March, Fish and Wildlife Service officials said.
Citing an ongoing investigation into the wolf’s death, officials declined to comment on where the wolf was found or possible causes of death.
“We want to let our law enforcement officers do their job,” said Ed Bangs, Gray Wolf Recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena, Mont. “All I can say is the carcass has been recovered, and our law enforcement officers are investigating the cause of death. At this time it’s unknown what the cause of death was.”
Bangs said biologists tracking the 18-month old wolf noticed a change in the signal from the radio collar, announcing the wolf had stopped moving.
“They went to investigate the area and found the carcass,” Bangs said.
Gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and anyone knowingly killing a wolf may face a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is working with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the wolf death.
According to records, wolf 341F was a member of the Mill Creek pack near Gardiner, Mont., when she was collared by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks as part of a research effort with the University of Montana to improve wolf monitoring techniques.
Biologists following her travels said she trekked more than 1,000 miles through five states on the journey that ended in Colorado.
“When wolves become sexually mature, if they want to breed, they have to go somewhere else, so they wander around looking for potential mates,” Bangs said. “With wolves it’s possible males and females will go 500 miles and start a new pack.”
Prior to 341F making her appearance, the last confirmed wolf in Colorado was a young female killed by a vehicle on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs in June 2004. Before that, the last known wolf in Colorado was killed in 1943.
Colorado law allows gray wolves to move freely around the state unless there are conflicts with humans or livestock.