DENVER (AP) — Wildlife officials have discovered evidence of wolves living in northwestern Colorado after hunters reported a suspected pack and residents found a scavenged elk carcass.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department announced the discoveries Wednesday, suggesting a pack of gray wolves may be residing in the state, The Denver Post reports. The news was first reported Tuesday by the Craig Press.
“We have no doubt that they are here, and the most recent sighting of what appears to be wolves traveling together in what can be best described as a pack is further evidence of the presence of wolves in Colorado,” department regional manager J.T. Romatzke said in a statement.
The hunters provided a video shot in October of two wolves shown near the Wyoming and Utah borders, officials said. It was the first time in a few years multiple wolves were seen traveling together in Colorado, officials said.
“We will not take direct action and we want to remind the public that wolves are federally endangered species and fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As wolves move into the state on their own, we will work with our federal partners to manage the species,” Romatzke said.
The announcement comes days after state election officials placed a measure to reintroduce wolves on this year’s ballot, officials said. The ballot will ask voters whether to require state wildlife commissioners to reintroduce gray wolves by the end of 2023 on public land in western Colorado, officials said.
“The wolf ballot initiative would ensure that Colorado develops a science-based plan to jump-start the restoration of wolves,” said Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund president Rob Edward who is leading the reintroduction campaign.
State wildlife officials have studied the possibility of reintroducing wolves in Colorado and decided to oppose such efforts, officials said. Local leaders in 23 counties have also opposed reintroduction.
“The forced introduction of non-native gray wolves will be like throwing gas on a campfire,” Stop the Wolf campaign chairman Denny Behrens said. “It’s just not fair to the wolf to force them into inevitable conflicts with people when they are already thriving in remote parts of Canada and Alaska.”