USFWS Confirms Wolf in Eastern Colorado

April 22, 2024

A rancher in Elbert County, Colorado, contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife after discovering a wolf-like animal in a legal coyote trap on April 3 on a ranch in eastern Colorado. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that this animal is a gray wolf from the Great Lakes wolf population, and not a wolf from the 10 recently released by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in December 2023.

The animal was an 84-pound male captured by a trapper using a legal leg-hold trap on a 30-day agricultural trapping exemption for nuisance wildlife, including coyotes. The trapper was unable to identify the species and contacted a CPW officer who responded to examine the animal and investigate the circumstances of the animal's death. 

CPW contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assist in identifying the species of the animal. Tissue samples were collected and sent to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lab for DNA analysis. A spokesman indicated genetic test results would be returned in four to six weeks but were confirmed to The Fence Post on April 18.

According to CPW, no wolf activity has been observed in this area. No tracking collars worn by reintroduced or native wolves show a presence in Elbert County. The animal did not have a collar or show any signs that one had been removed.

A neighboring rancher said there is abundant food sources for predators with calving season in progress. He said stray dogs also pose a significant problem for ranchers in areas with increasing development, especially this time of year.

This wolf was discovered the same day that CPW confirmed the first wolf depredation of a calf in Grand County.

Four days later on April 7, CPW confirmed a second wolf depredation of a calf in Jackson County. Another calf was attacked on April 13 and is receiving veterinary care. Four yearlings followed on April 16 and 17 in Grand County.

Source: Rachel Gabel, The Fence Post Magazine and Western Ag Network