Video of suspected wolf pack in Park County likely dogs, Colorado wildlife officials say

·3 min read

A video widely circulating on social media of a suspected wolf pack roaming in Park County has turned out to not be of wolves but likely domestic dogs.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife came to that conclusion after an investigation into a video that surfaced in recent weeks of the animals near an elk herd roughly 8 miles south of Fairplay, according to a news release from the state wildlife agency.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office believed after the initial sighting April 25 the group of animals might be large cross-breed Saint Bernard dogs that had escaped their enclosure near the area of the sighting.

Wildlife officers met the reporting party to determine the location of the sighting. They then looked for tracks in the snow, which they found and made casts for analysis.

They collected a drop of blood as well as two separate hair samples and two urine samples found in the area and sent them to a U.S Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service laboratory for genetic analysis.

They also conducted a howling survey and a search for the animals from an airplane. The airplane search did not discover any elk carcasses, though an elk carcass was originally reported, nor other signs of potential canid tracks.

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On May 5, results from the collected samples confirmed the animals were domestic dogs.

"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, the agency's area wildlife manager based in Fairplay, said in the 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.''

Lamb said the aerial search allowed the agency to make sure wolves were not in the area.

"For a pack of four to five wolves, we would have found some deer or elk carcasses or livestock carcasses and we didn’t find anything, even where the initial report came in,'' he said.

The agency encourages the public to report suspected wolf sightings but said not all sightings or reports will generate a response by wildlife officers. It said each report is evaluated individually.

The only wolves confirmed by the agency in Colorado are those in a pack consisting of two breeding adults that migrated into the state and their six grown pups in Jackson County, northeast of Walden. It is expected a second litter has been or will be born in the same area this spring.

The agency has confirmed that pack has killed four cows and a working cattle dog on three different ranches in North Park since December.

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How to report a wolf sighting

Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges people to contact the agency immediately and fill out a report if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of wolf activity in Colorado. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found at https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/Wolf-Sighting-Form.aspx.

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Video from Park County likely dogs, not wolves, wildlife officials say