By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A wolf found in Wyoming that was originally thought to be a male is actually a female and has bonded with a male wolf in Colorado, according to game officials.
This is the first time a pair of bonded wolves has made its home in Colorado in nearly a century, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The female wolf was originally part of Wyoming’s Snake River wolf pack, but traveled to Jackson County, Colorado, (which sits close to Laramie) in 2019. She was originally thought to be male, but has actually been identified as a female and has been spotted traveling with a male.
“The news of potential denning behavior of wolves in Jackson County is a real credit to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s on the ground scientists,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. “We know wolves are resilient, hardy animals and in this case two of them hundreds of miles from their home packs found each other and are now making a home in Colorado. While these wolves have a head start, I look forward to our state moving ahead with a well-planned and inclusive process to restore gray wolves in Colorado, fulfilling the will of the voters.”
Biologists believe the wolves are preparing a den, raising hopes that cubs could soon be born in the wild.
“I’m so excited that we may soon have new wolf parents in Colorado,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state’s last confirmed wolf pups were born in the wild almost a century ago. Unlike them, these new pups will not be the last of their kind, but instead could meet potential mates as more wolves are brought into the state.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Grand Teton National Park collaborated to make the discovery. The female wolf was originally captured and collared by a crew hired by the park in January 2017.
CPW staff will continue to monitor collar data, trail cameras and sighting reports to watch for any additional changes in behavior or denning behaviors that may indicate more wolves in the area.
Gray wolves in Colorado remain a state endangered species and killing a wolf in Colorado is a crime punishable by jail time, fines and/or the loss of license privileges.
“Confirmation that we have a male and female pair of gray wolves and observing what may be denning behavior in the state is an interesting development as we begin our planning and implementation process for reintroducing gray wolves to the state,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “We have not yet determined if reproduction has occurred. As we begin the discovery process with our Technical Working Group, we can now also observe how a naturally migrating pair is adapting here in Colorado and use that information to help inform plans moving forward.”