By Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News
March 3, 2006
Conservationists are thrilled with the possibility of a wolf that was videotaped by a wildlife officer in North Park west of Rocky Mountain National Park.
“If this animal is, indeed, a wild wolf, it would be one of very few wolves that have made the treacherous journey from Yellowstone to northern Colorado,” said Rob Edward of Sinapu, a Boulder-based wolf advocacy group.
He pointed out the last wild wolf to enter Colorado from Wyoming was killed on I-70 near Idaho Springs in 2004.
Government trappers exterminated the last known breeding population of wolves in Colorado in the 1940s.
“Sadly, Colorado will not likely see a breeding population of wolves in the next several decades unless we reintroduce them, as we have successfully done with Canada lynx,” said Edward.
Gary Skiba, state Division of Wildlife wolf management planning coordinator, said, “I’ve heard the animal acts like a wild animal, not one that was domesticated — that is it isn’t hanging around people — but there still is no way to know for sure.”
The animal, described as a large, dark canine, was first seen on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 north of Walden after a rancher called a wildlife division officer and reported it.
The officer reportedly captured in on a few minutes of videotape.
“From what I’m hearing, this animals was seen a couple of times in southern Wyoming before it wandered down here,” Skiba said.
A 14-member Wolf Management Working Group, comprised of wolf admirers, livestock producers, biologists and local government officials, drafted a management plan in 2004 that basically said if wild wolves wander into the state, they are welcome as long as they behave themselves.
However, that wouldn’t go into effect until the state would have control over them.
Presently, Skiba said, if this is a wild wolf, it is fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.