Crying wolf


Since 10 wolves were reintroduced to northern Colorado this winter, there have been more than 50 reported sightings via an online form on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. Seeing as how it’s been a hot minute, or never, since most Coloradoans have seen a wolf, some reports have proven more helpful than others.

The Vail Daily, which is near the epicenter of where the wolves were released, recently published some of the better descriptions (names and exact locations were redacted): 

• “Wolf-sized.” 

• “Large.”  

• “Appeared to be generally happy, prancing down the road.” 

• “Trotted out to where we were on the hill and where I peed.” 

• “I accidently said ‘Hi, Puppy!’ because I thought it was a large dog approaching us.”

Many of the reports are too vague for CPW officials to verify, Eric Odell, wolf conservation program manager, told the Daily.

“Most … there’s just not enough information to say anything,” Odell said. “But when we get a report and say ‘Oh yeah that very well could be a wolf.’ It’s less than 1%.” 

Ideally, those who think they see a wolf should snap a photo. A photo of the tracks – including the full stride and some kind of object to show scale – can also help. 

The first five wolves were released in Grand County on Dec. 19. Since then, five more were released. Two more migrated into the state naturally from Wyoming. In all, reintroduction will entail the release of 30-50 wolves over a three-to five-year period. CPW doesn’t plan to release any more wolves until next winter.

While the released wolves have tracking collars, their offspring, of course, will not. “If people were to see wolves, or what they think are wolves, in areas where we don’t have a collared wolf, that would be really interesting,” Odell said. 

If you think you see a wolf, first pick your jaw up off the ground. Then, snap a photo with that fancy iPhone and fill out a report at tinyurl.com/fr67ecdn. Be prepared to answer a slew of questions, like: What color was the animal? Was it wearing a collar? What was its ear position? How long was its tail?

“Without really good information, it’s hard to make as much of each report,” Odell said.  

And don’t lose heart if your sighting just turns out to be a coyote in wolf’s clothing. Dispelling rumors of a sighting is just as important as verifying them, Odell said.

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