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First wolf born and collared in Colorado now has a name

The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center held the naming contest, though state wildlife officials said they will still refer to the pup by its official identifier 2202.

JACKSON COUNTY, Colorado — A wolf pup that was born in in Colorado and collared by wildlife officials now has a name, thanks to a social media contest.

When Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide asked people to weigh in on a name for the female gray wolf, one of six pups born last summer to a mated pair that migrated to Jackson County. They said about 40,000 people responded and a name was chosen: Akawe.

Akawe (aa-kah-way) is the Ojibwe word for "first," according to the wildlife center. The Ojibwe people have fought for the protection of wolves in parts of the United States.

Other options in the contest were: Wynonna, Hope, Juno and Nyssa.

The contest had no connection to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), which says it will continue to refer to the wolf by the identifier 2202. The first two numbers (22) indicate the year the animal was captured, and the second set of numbers indicate the wolf's gender. Males have odd numbers, and females have even numbers, CPW said.

RELATED: This is the first wolf born and collared in Colorado

Credit: CPW/Eric Odell
A photo of 2202, the first gray wolf born and collared in Colorado. The female pup was fitted with a GPS collar in North Park on Feb. 9, 2022.

During the collaring effort this month, a CPW-contracted company safely darted the wolf pup with a tranquilizer from a helicopter, allowing the collar to be fitted by field staff on the ground.

"The second GPS collar in this pack will allow our biologists and wildlife managers to learn more about the behavior of these naturally migrating wolves," said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow.

The pup's mother, F1084, also was fitted with a collar, but it has stopped transmitting, CPW said. F1084 migrated to Colorado from the Snake River Pack in Wyoming in 2019.

Her mate, M2101, migrated to Colorado separately in 2021.

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CPW said that while collars provide valuable information, they only provide a snapshot and are not monitored in real time. The primary tools used by wildlife officers are field observations of physical evidence such as wolf prints and scat during field investigations.

There have been reports of the Jackson County pack killing livestock and a dog. Ranchers and wildlife officers have been working together on a solution.

Gray wolves may not be taken for any reason other than human self-defense. CPW said an illegal take of a wolf may result in a combination of penalties, including fines of up to $100,000, a year of jail time, and a lifetime loss of hunting license privileges.

Alex Kirk also contributed to this news article.

RELATED: Ranchers, wildlife officers work on solutions after wolves kill cows and dog in Jackson County

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