A gray wolf that was tracked to western Colorado this winter after wandering about 1,000 miles from the Yellowstone region has been found dead.
State and federal wildlife officials said the female wolf's carcass was found in late March in northwestern Colorado after her radio collar sent out a signal indicating she had stopped moving. They declined to say exactly where the wolf was found or how she died.
"We want to let our investigators do their job," said Ed Bangs, gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana.
The 18-month-old wolf, a member of Montana's Mill Creek pack, was caught and collared as part of an effort to improve wolf-monitoring techniques.
Federal biologists say the animal, known as 341F, broke from her pack just north of Yellowstone National Park in September and traveled through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. Her collar indicated she was in Eagle County, about 120 miles west of Denver, in mid-February.
"This adventurous wolf sparked Colorado's imagination," said Gary Wockner, a former member of the Colorado Wolf Working Group. "She made us think about what Colorado is missing without its wolves."
At least one other a Yellowstone-area wolf has made it to Colorado. A young female wolf wearing a radio collar was hit and killed by a vehicle on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs, west of Denver, in June 2004.
Wolves are native to Colorado but were wiped out by the 1930s after ranchers, government agents and others shot, trapped and poisoned the predator. They will come off the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho next month.
Suzanne Asha Stone, northern Rockies representative for the Defenders of Wildlife, said she hoped the death of 341F wasn't the result of foul play. But she said her group would offer a reward for information leading to conviction "if this was an illegal killing of an endangered species."
Anyone with information is asked to call the Colorado Division of Wildlife at 877-COLO-OGT or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 970-257-0795.