Genetic tests confirm wolf presence in Northwest Colorado | VailDaily.com

Genetic tests confirm wolf presence in Northwest Colorado

Genetic testing has confirmed the presence of at least four wolves in Moffatt County in northwestern Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists have received notification from a genetics lab confirming that four scat samples collected near a scavenged elk carcass in Moffat County in early January came from wolves. This is the first official documentation of a pack of wolves in the state since the 1940s.

Of the four samples, DNA results indicate three are female and one is male. The testing was also able to determine that all the wolves were related, likely as full siblings.  

“The DNA doesn’t tell us the age,” said Eric Odell, a species conservation program manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We don’t know where or when they were born. We can’t say. But that there are closely related wolves is a pretty significant finding.”

Odell also noted that “although previous reports had mentioned sightings of up to six wolves, this doesn’t do anything to alter that estimate. Just because we only collected four scat samples doesn’t mean there were only four animals.”

Wildlife officials are still waiting to receive results back from scat samples collected Jan. 19 at a potential wolf sighting in Moffat County.  

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds the public that wolves are a federally endangered species and fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to that agency, killing a wolf can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, per offense. 

The public is urged to contact wildlife officers immediately if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. The website also has more information about wolves.