In a press release issued yesterday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) updated the public about the recent movements of 10 gray wolves that were captured in Oregon and released on the Centennial State’s Western Slope last winter. According to the release, two of the wolves are no longer emitting signals from GPS collars they were wearing during their December release. Another has died, likely of natural causes.

The press release included a statement from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) about the deceased wolf. “On April 18, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service became aware of a deceased gray wolf in Larimer County, CO,” that statement reads. “As a federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act, the Service is investigating and has sent the carcass for a necropsy to determine the cause of death.”

 Until the necropsy is completed, the USFWS won’t say for sure what killed the wolf, but initial evidence suggests that its death was not human caused. The agency went on to confirm that the dead wolf “was one of the ten recently released by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in December 2023.”

Shortly after the USFWS confirmed the dead wolf, CPW Director Jeff Davis informed Colorado’s ranching community that he won’t authorize the lethal removal of a female wolf that killed four cows in Grand County. “The biological interpretation of this is that she was likely in a den during the time when connectivity with the collar was interrupted, which aligns with the expected timing of wolf reproduction,” Davis wrote to the Middle Park Stockgrowers Association, as reported by the Colorado Sun.

Davis’ statement was a response to a letter that the ranchers sent to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and several CPW commissioners demanding that the agency kill a total of four transplanted wolves they say are responsible for killing six cows in tow counties in the past month. The ranchers who are demanding action live in Grand County, Larimer County, and Jackson County, Colorado.

CPW’s most recent wolf map shows that the animals moved east during the month of April, spreading further into Larimer County and north of Estes Park. “Movements of reintroduced wolves have been confirmed in watersheds east of the Continental Divide and onto the Front Range,” yesterday’s press release states.

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In addition to newly transplanted wolves, Colorado is home to the world’s largest elk herds. Many hunters worry about the impact the new wolf population will have on elk numbers once it’s more firmly established in the state. CPW says it’ll continue to update the public about wolf movements but will no longer be issuing monthly wolf maps via email.