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More wolves spotted in Colorado; animal remains a state endangered species

As the gray wolf remains a state endangered species, CPW said severe penalties for harming the animals will still apply when it regains management control.

MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. — After Colorado voters approved Proposition 114 – which asks to allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to reintroduce and manage gray wolves – the agency has again confirmed the presence of wolves in Moffat County. 

While the gray wolf remains under the management control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until at least Jan. 4, when the proposed removal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections would take effect, CPW continues to monitor the area and take sighting reports, the agency said Monday.

“The federal delisting discussion has caused some confusion in the state about the status of gray wolves in Colorado,” said Dan Prenzlow, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Regardless of the USFWS listing status, gray wolves remain listed as a state endangered species, and killing a wolf in Colorado for any reason other than self-defense remains illegal.”

While protected under the ESA, killing a wolf in Colorado can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, per offense. As the gray wolf remains a state endangered species, CPW said severe penalties will still apply when it regains management control in the state.

Earlier this year, a genetics lab confirmed four scat samples collected in Colorado in January came from wolves. It was the first official documentation of a pack in the state since the 1940s, according to CPW.

The scat samples were collected near a scavenged elk carcass in Moffat County, and indicated three of the wolves were female and the fourth was male.

RELATED: Genetics tests confirm wolves' presence in Colorado

CPW said wolves are elusive in nature, making visual confirmation more challenging than some other species. But game camera images, as well as tracks and fur, have been detected in the field throughout the summer and into November

“As recently as last week we have confirmed the presence of wolves in Moffat County via pictures and recorded howling. Staff will continue monitoring the area as part of our overall wildlife management and conservation duties, and we will share information when we have updates or can help clear up any misunderstanding of wolf activity in Colorado,” said Prenzlow.

The public is urged to contact CPW immediately and fill out a report if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity in Colorado. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on the CPW website.

RELATED: How wolves and family leave could impact Colorado governor's stimulus plans

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