DENVER — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has shared a new tool to help the public and ranchers broadly identify where the state's recently released gray wolves are traveling based on their GPS collars.
As part of the state's voter-mandated reintroduction effort, CPW released its first five gray wolves on Dec. 18 at an undisclosed place in Grand County. Five more were released a few days later in Grand and Summit counties. All 10 were collared. No additional wolves will be released this season, which runs until mid-March, wildlife officials said.
As of Jan. 22, all 10 of those wolves are alive and remain in Colorado.
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On Wednesday, CPW announced a new map published on its website to inform people about the wolves' activity, something that had been briefly discussed at the Jan. 11 CPW Commission meeting. As of then, CPW had no reports of depredation on livestock.
That map, created using the GPS collar data, shows which watersheds the wolves have explored. The watersheds are outlined in purple.
"In order for a watershed to indicate wolf activity, at least one GPS point from the wolf collars was recorded within the boundaries of the watershed," CPW explained. "Simply because a watershed indicates wolf activity, it does not mean that a wolf or wolves are present throughout the entire watershed nor that they are currently in the watershed. For example, a wolf has not yet been located south of I-70, even though the watershed in which a wolf was detected spans both north and south of the Interstate."
To protect the animals, specific GPS data is not available to the public.
CPW said it will update the map on a monthly basis and each new one will be published on the fourth Wednesday of every month. It reflects data for the prior month from the GPS collars of the 10 released wolves as well as two wolves in North Park that wandered into Colorado on their own. All known wolves in Colorado have collars, CPW said.
The collars record the wolves' position every four hours — though this may change based on cloud cover and terrain — and that information is transmitted via satellite to CPW. While the data doesn't show their positions in live time, it can help predict where the wolves will go, CPW said.
CPW may not share the map during the wolves' sensitive times of year, such as mating season. The organization also noted that the map's accuracy may diminish if the wolves have pups, as the babies will not have collars.
Looking ahead, this effort will continue according to the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan, which calls for the transfer of 30 to 50 wolves to Colorado over a period of three to five years, aiming for 10 to 15 wolves from multiple packs each year. After that point, the reintroduction efforts will stop and CPW will monitor if the population is self-sustaining.
CPW announced on Jan. 19 that it had secured 15 wolves for reintroduction into the Western Slope from tribal lands in northeastern Washington, but the wolves won't set foot in the state until between December 2024 and March 2025.
CPW has a Wolf Educational Resources page, where you can find videos on wolf biology and the reintroduction planning process. The department encourages the public to report any wolf sightings, especially with photos or videos. To submit one, visit CPW.info/wolf-sighting.
In addition, the organization has an online brochure available titled "Living with Wolves," which provides detailed actions on what to do during a wolf encounter.