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Wolf Educational Resources
Wolf Educational Resources
A trail camera night photo of a wolf looking off to the side.

​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​Wolf Educational Resources

Gray wolves historically inhabited most of Colorado but were extirpated. The last known resident wolves in Colorado were in the 1940s until the discovery of wolves that migrated into Colorado in 2019 and birthed six pups in the state in 2021. Between December 18 - 22, 2023, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wildlife experts released 10 gray wolves onto public land in Summit and Grand counties.​

CPW typically fields around 100 sighting reports each year. However, wolf reports are typically not considered reliable without strong supporting evidence. Confirmed or probable wolf dispersals into Colorado have occurred in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2015, 2019, 2020 and 2021.​

​People often mistake large coyotes for gray wolves when recreating in Colorado. Learn the key physical differences between these species. Several helpful resources are available for those interested in learning about gray wolves in Colorado.

Requests and Resources: Educators and Students

Reintroducing the Gray wolf to Colorado provides educators with a relevant, real-world example for students to learn about wildlife management, ecosystems and the biology of wolves specific to our state. Available resources for classroom educators and students include:

  • Virtual or in school programs:  Request a program with Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff to learn more about wolves, the reintroduction process or how to live and recreate with wolves. Requests need to be made at least 3 weeks in advance. 
  • Gray Wolf Video Series: Join us in this 4 part video series, made for K-12 audiences, to explore the past, present and future of wolves in Colorado.
  • Teacher Resources:​ Download available lesson plans that are standards aligned to explore wolves and the reintroduction process in more detail.
  • Researching Wolves: In addition to the resources found on this page, students can visit our Wolves in Colorado page to find more information needed for classroom research projects. 


​​Wolf Reintroduction Educational Sessions

Colorado Parks and Wildlife invites you to watch recorded educational sessions to learn more about the wolf reintroduction planning process. CPW staff and guest speakers presented information about wolves and the wolf management plan to help educate Coloradans about the wolf reintroduction process. 

Session 1: Wolf Management and Wolf-Prey Interactions  

Learn about what it means to have wolves on the landscape, how experts from other states approach wolf management and how wildlife experts develop management plans for other species.​

​​Speakers: Diane Boyd,  Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks(retired); Jon Horne, Idaho Fish and Game​

​Session 2: Wolf Reintroduction Logistics and Lessons Learned

Learn about what went into the considerations and the logistics for the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and Central Idaho in the mid-1990s through real-world experiences about establishing and managing wolves in the Northern Rockies.

​​Speakers: Ed Bangs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (retired); Mike Jimenez U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (retired)

Session 3: Wolf-Livestock Damage Minimization and Compensation

This educational session provided information on how states like Montana work with agricultural producers to prevent and reduce wolf depredation on livestock and how producers are compensated for losses.

​​Speakers: Luke Hoffman, CPW Game Damage Coordinator; Nathan Lance, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wolf Management Specialist; George Edwards, Executive Director of the Montana Livestock Loss Board

Living with Wolves in Colorado

Below, you will find some questions we frequently receive regarding living with wolves in Colorado. Wolves are elusive, even to wildlife officers and biologists, but there are some things you should know about living with wolves. 

How can people identify wolves?

Wolves are bigger, stockier and have a longer tail than other canids (e.g., foxes and coyotes).

Despite their name, gray wolves may be white, tawny gray or black, or any combination of those colors. Approximately half of any gray wolf population is actually gray. Adult male gray wolves typically weigh between 90 and 110 pounds, and may exceed 5 feet in length from nose to tail tip. Adult females typically weigh between 80 and 90 pounds and can be 5 feet long.

Pups are born with black spots on the upper outside of their tails, which may fade with age. Young wolves may resemble coyotes or some larger domestic dogs. However, wolves can be distinguished from most coyotes and dogs by their longer legs, larger feet, wider head and snout, shorter ears, narrow body and straight tail. Coyotes are 1.5 feet tall, and 4 feet long, weighing between 20-50 pounds.

Coyote or Gray Wolf: How to Spot the Differences

  • Wolf heads/faces are broader, and ears are rounder than the coyote’s narrower face and tail, and pointed ears.

  • Apparent sightings of wolf tracks often are a case of mistaken identity. Dog and coyote paw prints can be mistaken for wolf tracks. Adult wolf prints are larger than dog and coyote prints. An average-sized wolf makes a track about 5 inches long (without claws) and 3 to 4 ½ inches wide. Coyotes are considerably smaller and narrower.

  • Although some dog breeds can have tracks greater than 4 inches in length, in general, if a 4-inch or greater canid track is observed, the probability that it may be a wolf is increased. Due to some overlap in size or the substrate the track was made in, tracks identification can be challenging. It is recommended to follow the tracks out, if possible, to obtain additional measurements, to look for other signs that may be in the area, and to identify the general travel path as wolves tend to travel in a straight line whereas domestic dogs tend to weave more.

What should I do if I see a wolf in Colorado?

Please report all sightings to Colorado Parks and Wildlife using our wolf sighting form.

To ensure the most credible information, please try to provide a photo or video, provide exact location coordinates or other detailed information for confirmation purposes.

What is a wolf pack?

The wolf pack is an extended family unit that includes a dominant male and female. In each pack, there is usually only one breeding pair, preventing subordinate adults from mating by physically harassing them. Thus, most packs produce only one litter of four to six pups each year. A pack typically includes the breeding pair, the young wolves born that year, perhaps last year’s young and sometimes a few older wolves that may or may not be related to the breeding pair.

Are wolves a threat to humans, in particular small children?

Aggressive behavior from wild wolves towards humans is rare.

Similar to black bears and mountain lions, wild wolves are shy of people and avoid contact with them whenever possible. However, any wild animal can be dangerous if it is cornered, injured or sick, or has become habituated to people through activities such as artificial feeding. People should avoid actions that encourage wolves to spend time near people or become dependent on them for food. If camping or hiking with pets, keep them on a 6-foot leash and secured at all times.

The gray wolf remains listed as endangered in Colorado regardless of the federal designation. State law allows for the protection of human safety if there is an immediate threat from any endangered or threatened species. However, these situations are extremely rare and would be thoroughly investigated. Additionally, although rare, state and federal land management agencies can remove or kill a wolf that presents a demonstrable, non-immediate threat to human safety.

Are wolves known to eat pets? What about backyard farm animals, like alpacas and chickens?

Wolves are predators, and generally feed on ungulates in the wild. However, wolves are opportunistic hunters and may kill pets and other farm animals such as alpacas and chickens. In general, techniques used to reduce depredation risk on private property from other predators may also be effective at minimizing risks associated with possible wolf depredations.

See Keeping Your Pets Safe Where Wolves are Present.

How are wolves managed in Colorado?

Wolves will be managed within Colorado using a phased approach based on the minimum number of animals known to be present in the state. These phases will correspond with the status of the species on the Colorado Threatened and Endangered Species list. There is no wolf population objective in the final management and restoration plan.

Currently, wolves are State Endangered. Wolves will be downl​isted from State Endangered (Phase 1) to State Threatened (Phase 2) when CPW biologists document a minimum wintertime count of 50 wolves anywhere in the state for four successive years. Wolves will be delisted from the State Threatened and Endangered species list and classified as delisted, nongame (Phase 3) when a minimum count of at least 150 wolves anywhere in Colorado is observed for 2 successive years, or a minimum count of at least 200 wolves anywhere in Colorado is observed, with no temporal requirement.

At the time future Commissions are considering delisting, CPW will conduct a Population Viability Analysis, or similar population modeling effort. This would be done to assess the extinction probability of the wolf population in Colorado, using Colorado-specific demographic parameters gained from research and monitoring the population in the state in the years between reintroduction and recovery.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the wolf population in Colorado as “Experimental” which relaxes take prohibitions. As a federally listed species, there is a strict prohibition against regulated hunting and other forms of take.

Visit our Wolf Management page for additional information about species management in the state.