The sighting wasn't reported to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Eric Odell, conservation program manager for CPW, said it's highly unlikely the animal spotted was a wolf. "Wolves, if they do travel to Colorado, they are not going to be in a developed area like Fort Collins," Odell said. "Currently, we don't have any known wolves in Colorado."
Odell said the animal is most likely a coyote, which shares a resemblance to a gray wolf.
Wolves, however, have a large nose pad, broad snout and short ears with rounded tips. Coyotes have smaller, more delicate faces with long, pointy ears.
Wolves measure 27 to 33 inches tall at the shoulder, compared to just 20 to 22 inches for coyotes, which weigh 25-45 pounds compared to wolves, which can weigh as much as 120 pounds. "They just have a much larger presence," Odell said. "Bigger footprints and stride length."
Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for CPW, said the animal could also possibly be a wolf-dog hybrid.
Eradicated from Colorado in the 1930s, gray wolves are now protected under the Endangered Species Act and occasionally cross into the state.
Last spring, a licensed coyote hunter accidentally killed a wolf near Kremmling. It is illegal to kill wolves in Colorado without a special permit.