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DNA Determines Alleged Wolves In Park County Were Actually Pack Of Domestic Dogs

PARK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) -- A Park County resident who recorded a video last month and posted it on social media remains convinced its shows wolves hunting elk.

However, authorities' investigations point to it being a pack of loose dogs.

Whichever they were, the possibility of wolves existing in the central part of the Colorado raised hackles on anyone tracking the progress of wolf re-introduction.

"We take a conservative approach to stating whether or not there are wolves in a particular area, and this case is an example as to why we do not have an immediate reaction or public response," Eric Odell, CPW's Species Conservation Program Manager, stated in a press release.

A gray wolf in an undated file photo. (credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife)

Gloria Rose Adams, 59, posted the video on Youtube on Monday, April 25. The animals are seen at least a quarter of a mile away in a field next to U.S. 285 south of Fairplay.

The Park County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) immediately began investigating the alleged sighting. CPW launched an aircraft to search the area but found nothing out of the ordinary.

Two days later, PCSO announced its investigators believed the animals in the video to be cross-breed St. Bernard's "that live in the area and have a documented history of escaping their enclosure," the agency stated in its own social media post.

The owner confirmed that the dogs were on the loose April 25 at the same time the video was recorded, PCSO stated. The owner was in fact being cited for the dogs running free two days prior to the video's recording, PCSO stated.

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CPW didn't release its findings until two weeks after the alleged sighting.

A drop of blood, two hair samples and two urine samples were sent to a USDA lab. The returned results indicated a domestic dog was the source of each, CPW stated. The agency's personnel also analyzed tracks in the snow and conducted "howling surveys" in the area at dawn and dusk the next day.

"Especially on something as sensitive as a wolf sighting, we always want to do everything in our power to investigate it to the best of our ability to confirm, or not confirm what it is," Mark Lamb, Area Wildlife Manager for CPW's Area 1 that is based out of Fairplay, stated in CPW's press release. "We want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence and making sure everything is correct before we start releasing any information."

The fact no elk or livestock carcasses were found also played a role in CPW's conclusions.

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"I totally disagree with CPW," Adams told CBS4. "I seen the way they hunt and what they were doing. They broke up a herd of elk and drove 30 of them over a fence."

Adams said the dogs were black and gray, not traditional St. Bernard colors. She also disputed the location that the agencies studied, saying she recorded the video four miles south of where both PCSO and CPW focused around Park County Road 5.

"I can understand what they're doing. (CPW personnel) don't want to start a ruckus," Adams said. "But people and wolves are a strange combination up here."

Limited sighting of wolves have occurred in the northern parts of Colorado where the animals are believed to have migrated from Wyoming. Programs have begun in five western states - three north of Colorado and two to the south - to restore the wolf populations.

Wolves were eradicated in Colorado in the 1940s, according to CPW. But voters passed Proposition 114 in November 2020 which permitted the re-introduction of wolves west of the Continental Divide.

Last year, a family of two adult wolves and a litter of pups was confirmed in Jackson County.

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"I think it is very important that the public continues to let us know if they think they've seen a wolf by going to our online wolf report form," CPW's Lamb said. "We are thankful to the people that reported it so we could look into it and know for certain, at least with this one particular case."

Anyone who believes they've seen a wolf in Colorado is asked to notify CPW online.

Adams thinks Park County residents will have that chance.

"If they were wolves, they'll be back."


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