Wolf found over 1,000 miles from home in Colorado, feds say. How remains a mystery

A gray wolf recently trapped in Colorado was a total outsider to the region, and may have traveled more than 1,000 miles from its home, federal wildlife officials said.

A rancher discovered the wolf in a legal coyote trap on a private ranch near Colorado Springs on April 3 and contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to report its death, The Fence Post reported.

It wasn’t one of the 10 wolves the agency reintroduced in December 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed to McClatchy News via email.

Genetic testing confirmed the wolf came from gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region, more than 1,000 miles away from where it ended up in Colorado, officials said. Great Lakes wolves are genetically distinct from the Northern Rockies wolves that were reintroduced.

One of the 10 reintroduced wolves was also found dead on April 18 in Larimer County, about 170 miles north of where the gray wolf was trapped in Elbert County, officials said. Initial evidence suggests the wolf may have died of natural causes.

Because wolves are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, the federal agency is investigating both incidents. Experts don’t yet know whether the trapped gray wolf traveled to Colorado on its own or was brought there in some other way.

Wolves do sometimes leave the pack they were born into — known as their natal pack — and venture off on their own to find or make a new pack, officials said.

The distance these wolves travel varies. In 2023, a Mexican gray wolf known as Asha ventured away from her natal pack twice and traveled more than 500 miles before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured her in hopes of breeding her, McClatchy News previously reported.

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