Apr 17, 2024 - News

Mapped: Where to wolves are located in Colorado

Where wolves are located in the wild in Colorado as of March 25, 2024. Map courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Where wolves are located in the wild in Colorado as of March 25. Map: Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Wild gray wolves in Colorado are becoming a public attraction, but not all officials see the wildlife as a tourism magnet.

Why it matters: The controversial reintroduction in December— approved by voters in the 2020 election — is clouding how the state views wolves and whether they become a draw for visitors like the packs in Yellowstone National Park.

The big picture: Wildlife officials believe 12 wolves are roaming Colorado, the 10 released in Grand and Summit counties in December by the state and two others that crossed the border from Wyoming.

The intrigue: An updated map, published by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, only shows their territory by watershed, rather than pinpointing their exact locations.

  • But a pack of four wolves is located in the North Park territory in Jackson County, according to officials, who reported a livestock attack earlier this month.

What they're saying: Nathan Varley, who runs Yellowstone Wolf Tracker, a tourism business in Montana, sees potential for wolf watching after their release on public lands.

  • "I think wolves will be an attraction in Colorado. …They're just kind of this extra quality of the wild landscape that you have. It's like, 'Oh, we could see a wolf. We could hear one howling at our campsite,'" he told KUNC public radio.

State of play: A wolf spotted on a road near Kremmling in February drew a flood of traffic to the area, officials said, and online posts tracking them are drawing huge interest.

  • Interest is expected to peak this month as officials learn whether the wolves built a den and mated.

The other side: Tourism officials in Glenwood Springs and Vail are dismissive of the idea that wolves are a new avenue to draw visitors. Right now the attention is on wolves as predators who may scare hikers from nearby trails, much like mountain lion sightings, and kill livestock on nearby ranches and public lands.

  • "I think that it may be a detriment in some ways," Glenwood's tourism director Lisa Langer told KUNC.
  • "We've seen zero discussion or impact or momentum or anything in regards to tourism, Chris Romer, president of the Vail Valley Partnership added.
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