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No wolves found where cow calves died in western Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said 18 dead calves were found near Meeker in early October, and more have been found since.

MEEKER, Colo. — State wildlife managers say that they've found no evidence of wolves in an area of western Colorado where dead cattle was reported.

In October, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said it was investigating a report of 18 dead domestic cow calves on White River National Forest land near Meeker, some of which were thought to have possibly been killed by wolves. 

RELATED: 18 calves found dead so far on Western Slope, investigated as possible wolf kills

On Thursday, CPW Northwest Region Manager Travis Black told the CPW Commission that there was no evidence wolves were ever in the area. 

> The video above aired on October 7.

Black said CPW's initial investigation revealed three to five of the calves had injuries consistent with wolf kills. The deaths are believed to have happened over the course of about two weeks, in an area spanning a few miles. More dead cattle was found later, for a total of at least 40. 

Efforts to find wolves in the area included flyovers, camera traps, howling surveys (where CPW staff imitate the sound of a wolf's howl and listen for a response), and searching for scat and tracks. None of those efforts turned up any evidence of wolves in the area, nor did hair and scat samples collected from a fence.  

A veterinarian working with the rancher who owned the calves has suggested the deaths could be from clostridial myositis, also known as blackleg. Livestock protection dogs could also be to blame, according to Black. 

"We're scratching our heads a little bit," Black said. "We really don't know exactly what has occurred up there."

 At the CPW Commission meeting, Wildlife Programs Manager Wayne East with the Colorado Department of Agriculture said he would look into seeing if Colorado's state veterinarian, Dr. Maggie Baldwin, could help with determining how the calves died.

Black did not rule out the possibility of wolves, noting they can be difficult to locate. "We will continue to investigate," he said.

RELATED: Wolves shot in Wyoming may be from a Colorado pack

RELATED: Colorado sanctuary welcomes rarest wolf in the world

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