A young Mexican wolf is believed to be wandering the Divide area after escaping from a wildlife center more than a week ago.
Employees at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center noticed that the wolf was missing from an enclosure Nov. 11, according to a news release from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The animal “is not considered a threat to human health or public safety,” the agencies said in the statement.
“Subsequent to the reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the wild, wolf-human interactions have occurred but there have been no wolf attacks on humans,” the news release states. “However, like all wildlife, the animal may become defensive if cornered or threatened. Members of the public are encouraged to scare the animal if the wolf is seen at close proximity.”
The wolf, born in captivity last year, had arrived at the center earlier Sunday with two littermates, according to the news release.
After federal officials learned of the animal’s escape, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a team to the area to try to trap the wolf, but the efforts haven’t been successful.
The wolf is not marked with a radio collar or ear tag but does have a distinguishable characteristic: It is blind in one eye, the left, which is almost completely black, the release states.
Anyone who suspects they have seen or heard the missing wolf should call 866-487-3297 or visit cpw.state.co.us and fill out an online “wolf sighting form.”
The wolves are considered endangered, and harming or killing one is illegal unless it is in defense of a person’s life or the lives of others.
An employee of the wildlife center would not confirm that the wolf was missing and referred a Gazette reporter to the wildlife service for more information.
The center, on Twin Rocks Road, offers public tours of its “pack” of more than a dozen animals, including foxes, coyotes and other wolf species, according to the facility’s website. It is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and became part of the association’s Mexican wolf captive breeding program in 2008, according to the news release.
The Mexican wolf is a subspecies of gray wolf that was once common throughout the Southwest United States but was “nearly eliminated” from the wild by the 1970s, the wildlife service’s website says. Populations have since been reintroduced in Arizona and New Mexico.