MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Tests from a genetics lab have revealed what Colorado wildlife biologists say is a "pretty significant finding" -- the presence of a pack of wolves in the state. Prior to this test, wolves hadn't officially been documented as having been in Colorado since the 1940s.
The tests were done on scat the animals left behind in early January in Moffat County in the northwest part of the state. The four scat samples were found around a scavenged elk carcass.
The results show the scat came from three female wolves and one male, and they were all likely siblings. It's not known how old the animals were, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Eric Odell, a species conservation program manager.
"The DNA doesn't tell us the age. We don't know where or when they were born. We can't say. But that there are closely related wolves is a pretty significant finding," said Odell in a prepared statement.
CPW also says it's possible there were more than four wolves at the location, despite the fact that only four poop samples were found.
Similar testing is being done on scat samples that were found in a different part of Moffat County later in January. It's believed wolves were spotted there -- on Jan. 19 -- and wildlife officers said they heard howls. Tracks were found and wildlife officials released a photo showing them.
The gray wolf is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Killing a wolf can result in federal charges, a $100,000 fine and a year in prison.
Colorado voters will decide in the fall whether to actively reintroduce wolves into the state. The Colorado Secretary of State's office announced on Jan. 6 that proponents gathered enough signatures to get Initiative 107 -- "Restoration of Gray Wolves" -- on the 2020 General Election ballot.
The public is urged to contact CPW immediately and fill out a report if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity in Colorado.
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