Dead wolf came from Yellowstone | VailDaily.com

Dead wolf came from Yellowstone

Jane Stebbins

A female wolf found dead by the side of Interstate 70 in Clear Creek County earlier this spring walked the more than 500 miles from Yellowstone National Park, preliminary reports indicate.Wildlife officials fielded numerous calls from citizens who noticed the wolf’s body on the side of the highway. Other witnesses said they had seen the wolf trying to get under the guardrail on the shoulder of the interstate.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials sent the body to a forensics laboratory in Ashland, Ore., to determine the cause of her death. They were concerned that someone might have killed the wolf elsewhere and dumped her body in Colorado.”The preliminary report indicates she was hit by a car,” said Sharon Rose, spokeswoman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “They did not believe there was any foul play. Unfortunately, she got hit on I-70 – it’s a terrible thing to have to cross.”The issue drew statewide attention because a wolf hasn’t been widely seen in Colorado in more than 50 years.According to Rose, the wolf traveled more than 500 miles from her pack in Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Park biologists placed a radio collar on her on Jan. 8, 2003, but had lost track of that signal on Jan. 15 of this year after she roamed out of range.Colorado wildlife officials said they received reports of a wolf that matched her descriptions in the Yampa area near Steamboat Springs. “They can go any direction,” Rose said. “This one happened to come to Colorado.”Others have wandered from their packs in Wyoming and Montana to Idaho and Oregon, Rose said. “A single animal doesn’t make a population,” she said. “But it certainly was normal behavior.”Rose admitted it is possible others might follow, which has state Division of Wildlife officials organizing a citizen’s groups to make recommendations for a wolf management plan in the state.”We knew there was a good likelihood wolves would wander into the state,” Division of Wildlife spokesman Todd Malmsbury said. “And there’s a good chance they could become established in the state some day.””It is exciting,” Rose added. “It’s a little bit sad that she came this far.”