Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials confirmed at least six wolves were spotted in Moffat County, the northwestern most corner of the state. The pack was found about two miles from a trail of wolf tracks they discovered earlier this month.
The discovery is notable: It’s the first pack spotted in Colorado for nearly 100 years.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he’s honored to welcome the animals back to the state after “their long absence.”
“While lone wolves have visited our state periodically including last fall, this is very likely the first pack to call our state home since the 1930s,” he said.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the last gray wolves were killed around the 1940s. The animals were shot, trapped and poisoned by hunters’ who, at the time, were protecting their livestock.
But Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, gray wolves were protected, meaning anyone who hunted or killed the animals faced federal charges.
That may soon change.
In March of last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list after the wolf population increased. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, there are more than 5,600 gray wolves in the US.
In response, the Center for Biological Diversity said the proposal is “a death sentence for gray wolves across the country.”
“The Trump administration is dead set on appeasing special interests that want to kill wolves. We’re working hard to stop them,” Collette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center, said in the statement.
Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife said officials “will not take direct action in these cases,” but will monitor the situation, he said in a statement. Officials urged Colorado residents to report any wolf activity.