Brief History of Wolves in Colorado

Until 2019, wolves were last known to live in Colorado in the 1940s, when the species was extirpated from the state. Over the years, sighting reports have come into Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) from our residents and visitors, and Parks & Wildlife has diligently worked to confirm credible sightings in the state. In the summer of 2019, a wolf from the Snake River Pack (a pack in Wyoming) was located in Jackson County, Colorado.  

Gray Wolf pack of six individuals relaxing in a snowy forest.Following the confirmation of the Snake River wolf, a group of six wolves was reported in northwest Colorado and confirmed by CPW staff in January 2020. Confirmation came via staff ground sightings, tracks, and scat in the area originally reported along with game camera images throughout the year. 

Known as the Pioneer Pack, these were the first wolves in Colorado and the first pups likely born in the state. This was a very discreet pack that bothered no one. In fact, they were in the state for at least a year before being spotted by hunters. Three of these wolves are known to have been shot. A sighting of a pup was reported by CPW staff. A lone wolf has been spotted on game cameras. Otherwise, no one knows what happened to the remaining members of this pack. They are likely still in Colorado.

Most recently, agency staff placed a GPS tracking collar on a wolf in the north-central part of the state near Walden. The wolf was confirmed in late January 2021 when it was seen with the known wolf from the Snake River pack. This pair had pups and now forms the North Park Pack. They are known to have killed several cows and dogs.An adult wolf traveling through a conifer forest with two pups following behind.

With wolves having been introduced into neighboring states, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has long been preparing for their migration into the state. With the passing of Proposition 114, CPW will now work with the Parks and Wildlife Commission and stakeholders statewide to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado.

Over the past decade, CPW has confirmed or has had probable wolf dispersals that occurred in 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2015.

Potential impacts of wolves on livestock

Colorado State University (CSU) Extension has published an information sheet on the potential impacts on livestock from predation and the management tools available to reduce conflict. Read the CSU information sheet here Wolves and Livestock.

Wolf Resource Guide: Hands-on Resource to Reduce Depredations

This Hands-on Resource Guide to Reduce Depredations (Colorado Parks & Wildlife)  is meant to be a useful introduction for ranchers and livestock owners to implement effective strategies to prevent wolf depredations.

Wolves in Colorado FAQ

Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff have worked across areas of expertise, scientific backgrounds, and partner agencies to prepare a Gray Wolf FAQ page in response to significant public outreach. This page will be updated and expanded as the agency works through the reintroduction and public involvement process.

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