Collared gray wolf in Colorado thought to be male turns out to be female
By Steven Bonifazi
(DENVER, Colo.) Wildlife officials have discovered that a collared wolf, wolf M1084, is actually a female wolf and should now be referred to as F1084.
The determination of wolf F1084 being female came from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) working with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), according to a press release from CPW. The wolf was initially captured and collared in January of 2017 and later left Wyoming's Snake River pack, staying in Jackson County for the last two years.
CPW witnessed denning behavior from F1084, spotting the wolf traveling in Jackson County in February with wolf M2101, a male wolf they captured and collared. Staff from CPW fitted M2101 with a GPS collar to chart travel patterns as well as additional behaviors of the pair.
The denning behavior was discussed among CPW staff with partnering agencies who analyzed the genetic information and found that F1084 was in fact a female gray wolf and had been mislabeled.
“The news of potential denning behavior of wolves in Jackson County is a real credit to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s on the ground scientists,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We know wolves are resilient, hardy animals and in this case two of them hundreds of miles from their home packs found each other and are now making a home in Colorado."
Killing a wolf in the Centennial State is currently a crime, as gray wolves are currently a state endangered species. Anyone who commits such a crime can be subject to jail time, fines and potentially the loss of license privileges.
Proposition 114, which was approved by Colorado voters on November 3, 2020, directs CPW to create and implement a plan that will reintroduce gray wolves into the state to ensure the survival of wolves by the end of 2023, according to The Denver Post.
On May 20, CPW held its second educational session regarding efforts being made for the reintroduction of gray wolves. The next educational session will take place in June, covering livestock conflict management. The public is invited to join all CPW educational sessions on gray wolves.
It has not yet been determined whether or not reproduction has occurred between the two gray wolves. Nevertheless, staff from CPW will continue monitoring collar data, trail cameras and reports of sightings to catch any changes in behavior or denning behaviors that possibly show signs of more wolves within the area.
“Confirmation that we have a male and female pair of gray wolves and observing what may be denning behavior in the state is an interesting development as we begin our planning and implementation process for reintroducing gray wolves to the state,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “As we begin the discovery process with our Technical Working Group, we can now also observe how a naturally migrating pair is adapting here in Colorado and use that information to help inform plans moving forward.”