For the first time in decades, wildlife officials have found evidence of a wolf pack living in Colorado.
Mike Porras, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said his agency has heard rumors of packs for years. But last October, a group of hunters filed an eye-witness account of six wolves in the wilderness near the borders of Wyoming and Utah.
They even had a video of two of the creatures darting through the sagebrush. While Porras called it “obviously very convincing,” he can’t give an iron-clad identification without more evidence, like a DNA test.
But he can say that this is a “credible” report of a wolf pack and the first-ever one in recent history. It was followed by the discovery of an elk carcass in the same area. It was nearly picked clean — something wolves are known for — and surrounded by what were likely wolf pawprints.
“All those things put together led our officers, our wildlife managers to the conclusion that the most logical explanation is that there is a group of wolves living in northwest Colorado,” Porras said.
Wolves used to live in Colorado until humans killed and forced the last ones out sometime in the 1940s. Since then, there have been some credible but isolated “lone wolf” sightings, but that was it, until now.
“There are several states surrounding or near Colorado that have wolf populations,” Porras said. “Probably, that’s where they’re coming from.”
Soon, Colorado could be the next state to approve wolf-reintroduction. Just this week, the state announced that the question will be on the November ballot.
While Colorado Parks and Wildlife has said it will be neutral on the measure, it has opposed reintroduction efforts in the past.
This story originally appeared on Colorado Public Radio. Sign up for The Lookout, a free daily newsletter with major headlines from all across the state.