MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. — More evidence emerged Sunday that a pack of wolves is living in Colorado's far northwest corner, officials said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Sunday confirmed seeing six wolves about two miles from where an animal carcass was discovered in Moffat County, according to a CPW news release. The officers heard "distinct" howls" in the area before spotting the wolves through binoculars, the news release said.
The wolves were gone by the time officers headed their direction for a closer look. The tracks measured about 4.5 to 5.5 inches, according to CPW.
The sighting Sunday was more evidence that a pack of wolves might now live in Colorado's far northwest corner. Earlier this month, an elk carcass was found nearly cleaned of all its meat near Irish Canyon in Moffat County – just a few miles from an eyewitness sighting of a pack of wolves that was reported in October, CPW said.
“This is a historic sighting," Gov. Jared Polis said of the sighting Sunday, according to the CPW news release. "While lone wolves have visited our state periodically including last fall, this is very likely the first pack to call our state home since the 1930s. I am honored to welcome our canine friends back to Colorado after their long absence."
CPW has said it will continue to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal partners to manage the wolves as they move into the area and that it is still operating under its current management direction.
"As we have made clear, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will not take direct action in these cases," Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said in the news release Wednesday. "We have the leading experts on wildlife management and species recovery working for our agency, but while wolves remain federally protected, they are under the jurisdiction of the US Fish and Wildlife Service."
Gray wolves once lived across Colorado, but the last ones were killed around 1940. Earlier this month, a ballot question was approved for November in which Colorado voters will decide whether to reintroduce gray wolves back into Colorado – on public land west of the Continental Divide – under a CPW plan that would be put together by 2024.
The gray wolf is protected under the Endangered Species Act and killing the animal could result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, officials said.
CPW asks anyone who spots or hears any wolves in Colorado to report them on their Wolf Sighting Form.