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A wolf that captured headlines for making a 1,000-mile trek from Montana to Colorado is dead. Authorities say her carcass was recovered last week in northwest Colorado. In an email, Ed Bangs, gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, confirmed her death and said his agency and the Colorado Division of Wildlife are investigating, “but at this time cause of death has not been determined. … Nothing more can be said while we let those guys do their job.”

Long-Wandering Wolf Found Dead

A wolf that captured headlines for making a 1,000-mile trek from Montana to Colorado is dead.

Authorities say her carcass was recovered last week in northwest Colorado.

In an email, Ed Bangs, gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, confirmed her death and said his agency and the Colorado Division of Wildlife are investigating, “but at this time cause of death has not been determined. … Nothing more can be said while we let those guys do their job.”

Bangs said the investigation was being handled by law enforcement personnel, which is typical for wolf deaths.

“We want our law enforcement people to be able to do their job,” Bangs said. “Right now everything is under investigation, including the cause of death. Until they figure out what’s going on, we don’t want to compromise their investigation.”

Colorado DOW officials also confirmed the death, but referred calls to Fish & Wildlife.

Known as 341F (she was misidentified previously by the Colorado DOW and widely reported as 314F), the 18-month-old female was a member of the Mill Creek pack, which lives between the towns of Gardiner and Livingston, Mont.. She was collared by wildlife officials as part of a research program with the University of Montana to improve wolf monitoring techniques. Biologists say she strayed from her pack in late September in search of a mate.

Satellite data detailed an epic journey through some of the West’s wildest places to a place where wolves had been eliminated some 70 years before. She crossed Yellowstone National Park, wandered through western Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest and headed into southeastern Idaho and northeastern Utah before ending up in northern Eagle County, Colorado.

This adventurous wolf sparked Colorado’s imagination. She made us think about what Colorado is missing without its wolves,” said Gary Wockner, a former member of the Colorado Wolf Working Group.

Native wolf populations in Colorado were wiped out by the late 1930s. The last record of a native wolf killed in Colorado was in 1943. In June 2004, a radio-collared wolf from Yellowstone was found killed by a passing motorist on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs.

Data from her collar showed the wolf had left Colorado and wandered into south-central Wyoming before returning to the state. Authorities suspected she was dead when her collar stopped showing movement.

Bangs said a complete necropsy would be conducted to determine what killed this wolf. Among Northern Rockies wolves, 26 out of every 100 wolves are killed, almost all of them shot by animal control officers or poachers. Among long-dispersing wolves like this one, most are hit by cars or illegally killed, he said.

“When we helped to restore wolves to Yellowstone and central Idaho in 1995, we hoped it would someday lead to the return of wolves in Colorado,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife. ““We hope that this wasn’t the result of foul play but will do what we can to support the state’s investigation including offering a reward for information leading to conviction if this was an illegal killing of an endangered species.”

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30 comments

  1. Well, looks like somebody did the people of Colorado a big favor.

  2. Oh Bill save your snide comment for people that actually care.

  3. What a sad and at the same time inspiring story. As I was reading the story, I was just imagining her wandering all over the beautiful west! She may be gone, but hopefully helped blaze a trail that our children will be able to witness.

  4. We would be happy to give Colorado the pack that has been terrorizing our town this winter and spring. Maybe we can finally get some sleep.

    Wolves belong in the wilderness, not in our towns!

  5. Well then TLM, maybe you shouldn’t live in a town near the wilderness. After all, who was there first—your town or the wolves? Taking away wilderness, building a town, and then criticizing wolves for “terrorizing your town” is somewhat hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

  6. Johnny Thundersockeye

    Wow ,all that traveling through so much spectacular scenery to end up in a place as ugly as the human -induced nightmare called Vail! She should have at least chosen a town with real soul and more interesting sugar daddies like Aspen or Telluride or even Leadville rather than that slapped together interstate side monstrosity ! I figure some of them have already made it to Catron county or at least Chama by now,so maybe they’ll hybridize with Mexican Greys and genetically mutate into some new Elk and cow pulverizing superspecies! Oh wait Mexican Greys are actually rare and endangered!!

  7. Jeff asked “who is Bill Coke and why is he so negative?”
    He’s your typical red-neck, a species that unfortunately isn’t endangered in Montana. Afraid of everything they don’t understand or take the time to understand whether it’s wolves, lions, bears, long hair,gay marriage, education etc. Their minds were frozen in time 100 years ago.
    Course, the number of violent offenders here doesn’t bother them only things over which they can exert their manhood with the use of a weapon. In other words they’re cowards… always been losers…never amounted to anything …never will.
    Hopefully they have no kids.

  8. Instead of prowolfers and conwolfers beating each other up, why not ask yourselves why wolves have not been introduced in Colorado? Biologically, there is no reason not to reestablish wolf populations in Colorado. Could it be that it is politics and not biology that is driving this ridiculous debate?

  9. Is anybody really shocked that rightwingwhitesumpremacists are killing everything they cannot understand?

  10. Logger–bigskyjrt–I enjoyed your comments and am glad you took the time to tell it like it is.

  11. Hey Logger, I had long hair when you were in diapers.

  12. newwest, stop posting wolf stories, you get stupid comments by all the insane people lurking out there on the internet!

  13. How sad! I was very pleased to hear that at least one wolf made it through the landmine that is Wyoming ( as far as wolves or any predator is concerned). What a shame it had to end so soon!

    Here’s hoping some more will be able to make it! Colorado’s overpopulated elk herds need the benefit of a top predator like my state of Montana has received. (Don’t believe the fear-mongering— the elk/deer populations here are doing very well.)

  14. There is some potential good to come from this unfortunate end to 314F’s odyssey . The ” Genetic Diversity” argument is the main sticking point for Wyoming not gaining federal delisting approval of its portion of northern Rockies Grey Wolves. Genetic Diversity is a verb , not a noun. It has to be demonstrated by Wolves like 314F actually mating and denning and producing litters far afield from their home pack and original range. It is not an abstract notion or bullet point ( oops…bad simile) for lawyers to hash out . Genetic Diversity requires that Wolves be allowed to travel and form new packs and expand their domains, across state lines. This wandering Wolf in search of a mate actually traversed portions of five states, but to what end? There were none to be found.

    314F was very likely an illegal kill. ( Otherwise USF&WS;wouldn’t be guarding their language so ). If so, she has become a martyr , and all the hard evidence the Judiciary needs to keep Wyoming’s plan in the Court’s doghouse. A perfect example of how Wyoming’s wolf management would work on the ground if No Fault Predator Status is allowed to be codified in the 80 percent of Wyoming outside of the Greater Yellowstone trophy zone. The root of Wyoming’s obstinance towards Wolves is the State , its Game & Fish department, and the special interest groups who despise wolves, are loath to grant the Wolf its deserved staus as bona fide Wildlife. I’ve actually heard a top ranking Wyo G&F;official state publically that Wolves have no positive value to them and there is no scenario acceptable to them that would allow Wolves to proliferate outside Wyoming’s so-called ” Trophy Zone ” , the 10 percent of the state ( mostly national forest and wilderness) that abuts Yellowstone Park directly. (Remember, they are called the Wyoming GAME and Fish department, not Wyoming Wildlife and Fish department…big difference. Wyo G&F;manages as game for revenue, not wildlife for natural resource conservation , regardless of what they tell you. Wyo G&F;considers Wolves to be nuisance animals. Until they alter that thinking, don’t expect Wyoming to cave to wolves.

    Wolf 314F will turn out to be a valuable lesson in trans-state Wolf policy. I followed her voyage as best I could, since she was pioneering into an area of Colorado that is even better Wolf habitat than anywhere in Wyoming , including Yellowstone Park. I secretly hoped she would find a mate and establish Wolves in northcentral Colorado all on their own, which would nudge the state towards accepting them sooner and with more defensible reason. Colorado has the largest Elk population in the lower 48 states , and Ecology 101 dictates that top tier carnivores need also be present in sufficient numbers to balance the overly large herbivore populations. In Colorado—just as in Wyoming— there is plenty of territory and ungulate population for everyone and their Wolf …the hunter, the livestock producer, the recreationist, the resident. It just needs to be allowed to happen thus and so.

    Wolf 314F was doing her best to pioneer her specie back into Colorado to begin righting a great wrong. Sad that she successfully evaded the gauntlet in four other states without finding a mate. But there is always tomorrow and next year. nd Wyoming wills till be in the federal Doghouse.

    *
    SIDEBAR: another wandering Wolf has made its way into Wyoming from Idaho, traversing all of Yellowstone Park in winter to hook up with a small pack in Sunlight Basin NW of my homeotwn of Cody , WY. Two weeks ago today I was in Sunlight and observed four Wolves, thanks to the generous assistance of US researchers working on the important Absaroka Elk Study who let us glass the wolves from 800 yards thru marvelous Swarovski long range optics. I did not know it at the time, but one of those wolves was the wanderer from Idaho. I suspect he mated with the resident female.

    The ominous cloud over this was the presence of the agent from USDA Wildlife Services, with rifle in front seat of his truck. In the case of Wolves, agents from Wildlife Services ( a terrible name for what they do ) are usually on the scene only to remove predators usually lethally , usually because they w ere called by a rancher. And true enough , the four Sunlight wolves were in an area adjacent to a large cattle ranch and a smaller dude ranch with wintering heifers and new calves less than a mile away. But the Wolves had been there all winter and had not bothered the stock . For one thing, the large ranch has a 10-foot high fence round it that would be worthy of Guantanamo or the Mexican border, a barricade installed many years ago by the owner ( former President of Ford Motor Company John Bugas) to keep Sunlight’s large wintering herd of migratory Elk out of his pastures. Apparently , the fence works on wolves, too. Besides, before we came upon the wolves we had just driven by 300- 500 wintering Elk on the same side of the creek as the wolves, and not even a mile away.

    I overheard the Wildlife Services agent asking the UW elk researchers if they were aware ” where my traps are” , then he drove away. Later that afternoon on our way back to town , we passed the USDA agent again , and this time he had a fellow with him.

    I’m going to try to find out if Wildlife Services took any “action” on those four Wolves. Because they, too, are an example of Genetic Diversity of Wolves actually occuring in the field , if in fact that Idaho wolf hooked up with his Wyoming friends, with benefits. On the very field of play so important to resolving the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan. It’s important to know how the agents in the field actually manage for genetic diversity when it’s happening right there in front of them , and is the main reason Wyoming is still on probation.

    It’s one thing for Wolf 314F to be killed illegally by a renegade citizen in Colorado, but another thing altogether too have a uniformed agent of the federal government do the deed. I hope that is not the case, but like I said, Wildlife Services isn’t there to study Wolves. Not at all.

  15. Well, if the wolf was shot, then it’s kinda obvious that social acceptance is a bit on the short side. I’m sure Colorado sportspeople and livestock producers are fully aware of the life changes that await should wolves become “established.” So, they seem to think a little disestablishmentarianism is in order.
    I agree.

  16. Dewey, Welcome to the dysfunctional world of New West commentary threads. And intersting thoughts, on your part.

  17. Gracias, Guillermo. I have waited all my life to hear the word ” disestablishmentarianism” actually used in a sentence. Mission Accomplished.

    How are things in downtown Salmon ID, one floor up ? You don’t call…you don’t write. Cody misses you. Since you left town , the collective literati IQ went down 3 points and hasn’t risen. ( plus or minus 5 points in polling error ). Little do they know you are not a typical redneck, or a typical anything.

    P.S. There’s a pack of 6 wolves running the North Fork ( Shoshone R. , not Salmon R.) now, but I see no obvious disturbance of the other critters up there from them, especially the Moose.

  18. Shooting wolves is just a serpent brain function.

  19. Rednecks with shooters are not the wolf extirpation agent. High speed highways are. Nobody has shot a wolf in Oregon that they know of, but at least two have left their life spirit on I-84.

    AT about 10:30 this morning, at mp 25 or a thousand yards west, I and a couple of friends saw a nice healthy looking black wolf on I-90, just off the west bound lane, looking to go south. 90 is sort of separated there, and the St. Regis river is between the east and west bound lanes. I do wonder if the critter tried to cross, or made it across. It was a very pretty and health animal.

    If you don’t want people to plant salmon, then don’t plant wolves. Or hatchery peregrine falcons, California condors, pygmy rabbits, kit foxes, silver spot butterflies, and the host of other critters now being raised for release in the wild.

    There are over a million hatchery coho from the Columbia River in the ocean maturing right now. Few will be caught because the wild spawners have to be protected. We are piss poor managers of wildlife in this country, and maybe that is because it is a political undertaking done by people who exist on the public dollar, retire on the public dollar, and will do whatever to keep the good job and gravy train going, and any wildlife benefit just makes things so much better. And if not, it will be someone else’s fault.

    But, I got to see a live and healthy wolf at 20 feet today. And I would not be surprised if it is now no more than a spot on the freeway, the high speed critter killer.

  20. I understand the point you are making, Baitster. Oh, youbetcha.

  21. Dewey, Don’t know if you’ll see this a day later. I just saw your second post. Anyway, I’m doing fine. You know me. I got my economic survival training in Buffalo Bill’s Municipal Theme Park. I read the Cody paper online and follow your posts on local lunacy,etc. How’s the level of Sex Ed. at Cody High? Are the chamber of commerce folks hanging around on the corners with tin cups yet.? We’re disconnected as in phone and e-mail, but I’ll figure it out. I’ll be in touch. Best to Big Al, William Randolph Hearst Pulitzer McCormack, and the rest of the plutocracy. Oh, and tell Ed Webster the President will cover the warranties. Bud (RIP) would sure love that.

  22. If Colorado land owners value their wildlife and ranching heritage, they will exercise their property Rights and kill every wolf on their land. Don’t let the Feds and wolves destroy your big game herds. Like they have up here in MT.

  23. Is Dewey suggesting the Wyoming Cattlemen have gotten to the folks at Wildlife Services? Corruption is endemic to capitalism.

  24. Yeah, Comrade Horst,
    but Communism IS corruption. Why’ncha head for Pyongyang and report back to us?

  25. Johnny Thundersockeye

    Colorado ,unlike Montana ,could stand to benefit from a few more packs of wolves , with the most elk of any state and sprawling subdividisions chewing whats left of so little winter range,wolves in certain areas could really restore some predator -prey equilibrium and actually benefit some wildlife and even hunters.Thats how it ideally can and does work,when there aren’t TOO many wolves or too many elk-its healthy and relatively stable!
    Also,remember wolf-haters,Rado, unlike Montana is chock full of the wolf loving hippies you hate so much,with lots of money and high powered Boulderite socio-political connections to fight wolf haters, so I think by and large the public perception of wolves is overall much more favorable and welcoming to wolves than the more conservative general population of Montana.
    I wish she had found a mate-its only a matter of time.Some people have claimed theyve been in the Flattops near Meeker,since the 90s and my mother saw one near Craig in about 98,so its only a matter of time and I think they probably already are -good for them and the ecosystems theyve been absent from for too long.
    But We do have plenty of wolves in Montana, where incidentally our Big game herds have hardly been ruined!You just have to Gasp!-put the Schmidt can down ,get out of the truck and maybe go climb a mountain to find them now that there a bit less tame than they were during the wolfless 70s and 80s!

    And wolf lovers should realize that hunting them here in MT.is a GOOD thing that will help them and humans,in the long run!They really NEED! to be chased and hunted as they are not fearful enough of us for their or our own good.!!

  26. “Her body has been found dead”??? Who is the proof reader? How did Wyoming become responsible for this?
    Has that Idaho town actually come into being in less than the last 15 years? I could have sworn it preceded the wolf introduction.
    They will most likely never reveal the cause if it is not deliberate man caused. They only use the wolves for propaganda. Remember the so called wolf poisoning that only killed dogs? Remember the 4 dead wolves they found on the upper Green? They announced that it appeared Wyoming had finally poisoned some wolves, sent the bodies for autopsies. They never released another statement. Over a year later I wrote Bangs and was referred to someone else who told me they were still “investigating”. I pointed out that autopsy results should have been available in a year. My guess is Parvo, and they do not want to lose the propaganda value.

  27. @ John, thank you for your gracious words and keen wit. Really enjoyed the laugh at your suggestion of moving an entire town. However I am sad to disappoint you. There were already wolves here before the re-introduction and we all got along just fine. Our town is not like other places where developers bulldoze the forest to create “planned communities”, they have dated the native American dig nearby at 8,000 years old so far.

    The reason there were so few wolves around here wasn’t due to killing them. Its because this isn’t good habitat for them or the elk that are here because they were introduced too. Lewis and Clark’s party was mighty hungry when they passed through here.

    There are currently more wolves than the habitat can support, and the wolves are living in marginal areas. Its too bad folks can’t understand that the west wasn’t void of humans before the Europeans, and it will not sustain the numbers of wolves that people are asking for. We DO NOT want to see the wolves killed. My suggestion was to transplant the wolves, not kill them. So before you call someone a hippocrate, please walk a mile in their moccasins. Most of us around here tread lightly on our Mother Earth. Many of us have come to realize that the wolf is not an elusive myth after experiencing these amazing animals up close and personal. (Read about how easily yearling wolves become habituated to humans, there’s a 2003 Yellowstone study in PDF format online.)

    Wolves belong in the wilderness – not in our towns!

  28. Its funny that everyone argues different points on the ‘wolf’ topic, but you all bring up good points. I myself love wolves and know they are a necessary, functional species. However, if given the chance, I would shoot them… legally. The reintroduction almost 20 years ago has produced an unexpected high growth of wolf populations (which is evident in such dispersal). This means that they could also be a game species to several states. Would that mean Wyoming would come to appreciate wolves?!? Us humans can (sadly) easily alter and manage our landscape so why not incorporate another species of management. Guns may keep them out our backdoors and ensure fear in wolf populations of humans… good thing for both wolves and people. It could also rally support for wolves from the most unlikely groups. So why not appreciate a possibility??

  29. Alex, et al— for the more mainstream opinions about Wolves in Wyoming ( verbal rage , usually ) , check the Comments to op-ed letters and wolf-related articles at the Casper Star Tribune newspaper website ( http://www.trib.com). You will be shocked at the vitriol and ignorance, as though it was all being streamed thru the Bile duct instead of the internet. I really am ashamed of my fellow Wyoming resident’s education and belief system in general, and apologize for them too often , until they turn their red necks and bared fangs towards my own words . If you are Pro-Wolf in Wyoming, it is a guarantee of receiving threats and being branded a pariah. There is no middle ground. It’s all Wyoming against the World to them , and not just wolves.

  30. Well my question is how did the poor little 18 month old die. was it from natural causes or did some one kill it?????