Colorado Wolves Expand Range, May Already Be Crossing Into Wyoming

Tracking data for Colorado’s reintroduced wolves shows them possibly wandering right up to the Wyoming state line, but it’s not confirmed whether any have crossed over.

Mark Heinz

April 25, 20244 min read

One of five wolves reintroduced to northern Colorado in December 2023.
One of five wolves reintroduced to northern Colorado in December 2023. (Jerry Neal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Since wolves were released in Colorado in late December, there’s been speculation over when they might cross into Wyoming. The latest tracking data suggest they might be coming right up to the state line, or possibly crossing it.

So far there have been no verified reports of Colorado wolves crossing into Wyoming recently. The newest wolf tracking map from Colorado Park and Wildlife (CPW) indicates wolf activity up to the Wyoming state line in Jackson and Larimer counties, Colorado.

Have They Or Haven’t They Crossed?

When asked whether there had been any confirmed instances of wolves crossing into Wyoming, CPW spokesman Joey Livingston told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that the agency “does not comment about wildlife movement in other states.”

Colorado resident John Micael Williams told Cowboy State Daily also said he hadn’t heard any confirmed reports of wolves crossing the state line. Although he thinks it’s inevitable that will happen soon.

The nearest that wolves have been reported to Wyoming that he’s aware of was near Steamboat Lake in Routt County, Colorado, roughly 12 miles south of Wyoming, said Williams, who runs the Colorado Wolf Tracker Facebook page.

The latest CPW wolf activity map indicates that wolves might have ranged out around about a third of the Centennial state as of Wednesday.

Williams said he thinks the maps might be somewhat misleading, because CPW is being vague about the wolves’ exact locations, supposedly for the animals’ protection.

“If a wolf sets one paw in a drainage, then (CPW) marks that entire drainage as having wolf activity,” he said.

Colorado Wolf Population Is 11

Wolves crossing between Wyoming and Colorado isn’t anything new. The North Park pack in Jackson County, Colorado, was formed in about 2020 by wolves that came in from Wyoming.

That pack has effectively ceased to exist. Three subadult females wolves shot in Wyoming near the Colorado line in October 2022 might have come from that pack.

Two wolves, both thought to be males, remain from the North Park pack. Ten more wolves, transplanted from Oregon, were released in Colorado in December, initiating that state’s wolf reintroduction program.

That brought the state’s known wolf population to 12, but one of the reintroduced wolves was found dead in Larimer County last week. CPW reported that it had died from “natural causes.”

Williams said he’s heard some speculation that the wolf was killed by a mountain lion. That’s not unheard of. The two species sometimes clash, and there was a recent spate of mountain lions killing wolves in the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, six head of cattle have been reported killed by wolves in Colorado since the reintroduction.

Colorado wolf range map 4 25 24

Could They Find A Home In Wyoming?

Wolves remain fully protected in Colorado and may not be hunted by the public. If they cross into southern Wyoming, they’ll be in the Cowboy State’s predator zone for wolves. That means they may be killed on sight at any time.

That might not necessarily doom them all, retired Wyoming Game and Fish Department Game Warden Duane Kerr of Green River told Cowboy State Daily.

Even in the predator zone, which includes roughly 85% of Wyoming, wolves have proven clever enough to survive, he said.

Wolves have been reported recently near Green River, Kerr said.

That’s far enough north of Colorado, so it’s highly unlikely they came from the Centennial State, he added. It’s more likely they filtered down from Wyoming’s established wolf territory in the Grand Teton-Yellowstone areas.

But given how far wolves are known to wander, it should come as no surprise if wolves push north from Colorado, he said.

“They don’t pay attention to the state line. I know some of the humans there didn’t either,” said Kerr, who spent much of his career working along the Wyoming-Colorado line.

Some Colorado wolves might be evasive enough to survive in Wyoming. But it’s doubtful they could stay alive in large enough numbers to establish permanent packs, Kerr said.

“There’s a lot of people down there, ranchers and others who spend a lot of time down along that state line,” he said. “If they saw a wolf crossing into Wyoming, they wouldn’t think twice about eliminating it.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter