Middle schoolers have the chance to name Colorado’s new wolves

Mark Gocke/Wyoming Game and Fish Department
A lone wolf stands out on the horizon near Bondurant in 2017.

Colorado middle schoolers have the opportunity to name the first group of gray wolves coming to repopulate the state. 

In October, Colorado announced a one-year agreement with Oregon to acquire up to 10 wolves. The agreement comes after years of planning around how to reintroduce the species to the state, which voters narrowly approved in 2020. 

The original ballot initiative specified wolves must be released on the Western Slope, but wildlife officials haven’t specified exactly where. It is anticipated that the first wolves will be released by the end of the year.

Before that happens, the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is holding a naming contest for kids from fifth to eighth grade. Participating students will have access to an educational script and two electronic forms that will be used to tally votes. Because Colorado doesn’t know what the wolves look like yet, students will be given images of current wolves in Oregon to show possible color variations.

Students will then choose from a list of 14 potential names: Aspen, Luna, Maverick, Kekoa, Chinook, Shadow, River, Star, Freedom, Amarok, Ghost, Sky, Spirit, and Raven.

The name with the most votes will be assigned to the first released wolf. The second released wolf will receive the second-highest voted name, and so on. 

The center said all public middle schools in Colorado can participate. Schools and home-schooled students that want to participate in the contest are asked to email [email protected] with “Wolf Naming Contest” in the subject line.

The contest has already started and will continue until Dec. 20. The results will be finalized by the center no later than Jan. 1.