Colorado Wolves May Have Crossed Border And Then Shot In Wyoming

Three subadult female wolves shot in Wyoming just across the border from Colorado highlight stark differences in the states laws, where its illegal to kill wolves in Colorado but allowed in Wyoming.

Mark Heinz

November 01, 20223 min read

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The sharp differences in Wyoming’s and Colorado’s wolf management policies may have meant death for three young female wolves from Colorado’s famed North Park pack, a Colorado wildlife official said. 

Three black “sub-adult” females were reported to have been killed legally in Wyoming near the Colorado border earlier this month, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CWP) spokesman Travis Duncan told Cowboy State Daily. 

“CPW does not have a way to confirm that the wolves killed in Wyoming were part of the North Park pack,” he said. 

“However, based on information that has been provided to us and proximity to Colorado, we believe it may have been part of the North Park pack,” he added. “It is not uncommon for the North Park pack to travel into and out of Wyoming.”

Colorado Pack Established Itself 

Colorado voters in 2020 passed a ballot initiative to have wolves reintroduced to that state by the end of 2023. 

However, wolves began moving into Colorado on their own a few years ago. The North Park pack began with a black female wolf that came from Wyoming’s Teton Park area in 2019. 

That wolf found a mate in Colorado and last year had Colorado’s first litter of wolf pups in 80 years.  

CWP biologists are monitoring the North Park pack to determine if any of its known members have disappeared, Duncan said. 

Biologists spotted at least two wolves in North Park on Saturday but couldn’t get close enough to confirm the animal’s ages and coloring, he said. They also heard wolves howling but couldn’t determine how many. 

Completely Different Policies 

In Colorado, wolves are classified as an endangered species. Killing a wolf there for any reason other than proven self-defense can result in a $100,000 fine, jail time and loss of hunting privileges, Duncan said. 

In Wyoming, wolves are completely protected only inside national parks. In some areas directly adjacent to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, they may be killed only by hunters holding wolf licenses and according to set hunting seasons and bag limits. 

Elsewhere across the state, wolves are considered a predator species and may be killed on sight at any time without a license or bag limits. That includes the area where the three young females were reportedly shot near the Colorado border. 

Not Connected To Attack On Horses

In another recent case, a landowner in the Gros Ventre region was issued a permit to kill some wolves that had attacked horses there, according to reports from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Those wolves were killed within the state’s licensed wolf hunting zone.

There’s no evidence that the wolves killed near the Wyoming-Colorado border had been involved in the attack on the horses, Duncan said. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter