Several Wolves of Colorado’s North Park Pack Have Been Killed in Wyoming: CPW Investigating

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Andyworks

Officials with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife are investigating reports of three black wolves that someone killed in Wyoming. Their investigation hopes to determine if the slain wolves were part of Colorado’s only known wolf pack.

The agency contacted the Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials to determine if the wolves were from the North Park pack established in Jackson County. The pack’s territory extends as far as the Wyoming border.

Killing wolves in Wyoming is legal. However, it’s illegal in Colorado. Over the weekend, outlets reported that three black wolves were shot “just over the border in Wyoming.”

The state wildlife agency told outlets that “it received a phone call from a reporting party in Wyoming on Oct. 14 and has followed up with the individual and Wyoming Game and Fish.”

It added the “exact location where the wolves were shot is unknown to CPW, but is believed to be within 10 miles of the border with Wyoming.”

Reports also indicated that in addition to three black wolves being shot, two black wolves and a gray one were with the three that someone shot. However, the latter three managed to escape.

In addition, the coloring closely matches the North Park pack members, whose territory is known to cover much of Jackson County.

In April of 2021, the wolf pack’s parents, a black female and a gray male, migrated to Colorado and produced six black pups. This marked the first time wolf pups were known to be born in the state in nearly eight decades.

Wildlife officials scramble to identify slain wolves

However, not all is lost. For example, officials could use DNA samples to determine if the wolves reportedly killed were from the pack.

Blood samples are usually taken from wildlife captured and fitted with radio collars. The adult mother, adult father, and one of the pups of the North Park pack have been provided with radio collars. However, none of those collars have worked in the last several months, leaving officials unable to track the wolves.

If one of the wolves reportedly killed was wearing a deactivated collar that matched the number of a North Park pack member, it could be traced back to the Colorado pack.

In February 2021, the agency used a helicopter to capture and fit the adult male with a new collar. That endeavor began in northern Jackson County in Colorado but ended with the capture occurring in Wyoming.

According to the state wildlife agency, that collar has not worked since May 13.

In February 2022, the agency tried to capture and fit the pack’s mother with a new collar. They found the pack but not the mother. So instead, they caught and fitted a female pup from the group with a collar that failed shortly later.