Colorado Parks and Wildlife has placed a GPS tracking collar on a wolf in the north-central part of the state. The wolf was confirmed in late January when it was seen with M1084 – a VHF-collared male wolf that entered Colorado in 2019 from the Snake River wolf pack in Wyoming.
“The GPS collar will allow our biologists and wildlife managers to learn more about the travel patterns of wolves that are coming into the state,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “VHF collars are useful for locating an animal but the more advanced GPS collar will allow us to get a much better understanding of the animal’s movement, range and behaviors.”
During the collaring effort, a CPW-contracted company netted the animal from a helicopter and used a tranquilizer so that a collar could be placed. The wolf was able to get loose from the net and headed north toward Wyoming. The animal was subdued just inside of the Wyoming state line. At that time, the wolf was collared and staff remained with it until it was alert and mobile. CPW staff notified Wyoming Game and Fish of the operation and the crossing of the border.
“We appreciate Wyoming Game and Fish,” Prenzlow said. “I understand this work impacts them and wildlife don’t understand where our dividing boundaries are.”
“The newly collared wolf is a four-year-old male weighing approximately 110 pounds,” said Brian Dreher, terrestrial section manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The wolf was given a health exam during the collaring process and appears to be in good health.”
In Colorado, gray wolves remain a state endangered species, and may not be taken for any reason other than self-defense. Penalties under C.R.S. 33-6-109, including fines, jail time and/or a loss of license privileges, apply. Colorado voters approved a ballot measure in November 2020 that instructs the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to prepare a plan and reintroduce wolves to western Colorado. To learn more about that process, click on the “Learn about Wolf Management” banner on the CPW website at cpw.state.co.us.
A few facts about wolves:
- There are five subspecies of gray wolves in North America. Their coat colors can range from pure white to brown, gray, cinnamon or black.
- Gray wolves travel in packs of four to seven on average, led by alphas – the mother and father wolves that track, hunt and choose dens for the pups or younger subordinate wolves. Wolves often mate for life.
- Wolves typically hunt within territories, ranging from 50 to 1,000 square miles.
- Gray wolves are carnivores that usually prey on ungulates much larger than themselves, such as elk, deer or moose, but will also eat smaller mammals such as beaver, rabbit or livestock.
- Gray wolves can sprint 36 to 38 miles per hour for short distances.
- Gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list in October 2020.
- After the last wolf was killed in Yellowstone National Park in 1926, a wolf reintroduction program was implemented in 1995. The program is considered to be a great success and there are currently around 100 wolves in the park.