A hunter has killed a three-year-old female gray wolf 5 miles east of Beaver, Utah, wildlife officials have confirmed. The 70-pound animal was wearing a radio collar which indicated it was collared in Cody, Wyoming, in January of 2014.
The hunter called law enforcement officials after noticing the collar. The hunter says he believed the animal to be a coyote. Wildlife groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, are calling for a full investigation, which the US Fish and Wildlife Service says it will conduct.
This is the first documented killing of a gray wolf in Utah since wolves were reintroduced into Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. It is not the first documented sighting of a gray wolf in Utah — a 3-year-old male was found dead in a leg-hold trap in 2006 and another, collared, male was trapped near Morgan in 2002 and returned to Yellowstone. It is likely that other wolves, as yet undetected, are roaming the state.
For the past two years Utah has offered a $50 bounty on coyotes. More than 7,000 coyotes were turned in for the reward during the second year of the bounty.
“This is a very sad day for wolf conservation and for Utah. All competent wildlife biologists already know that coyote hunting, including our state bounty program, is ineffective, and therefore a waste of money – and now we see that is is also a threat to other wildlife and to wolf recovery,” said Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, based in Salt Lake City.
It is possible that this animal could be the wolf sighted near the north rim of the Grand Canyon in October, but her identity has not yet been confirmed. The wolf’s description and the location where she was found — near the southern end of the Tushar Mountains — means she was likely the Grand Canyon wanderer, said Michael Robinson, wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity.
However, other wolves are likely wandering through Utah. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is almost 200 miles south of Beaver. A photo of what appears to be a wolf crossing Highway 14, 70 miles south of Beaver, was taken early in December, and the wolf shot may be the animal in that photograph, said DWR director Greg Sheehan. Federal officials are comparing the DNA of the wolf shot near Beaver to that of the animal sighted near the Grand Canyon to see if they are the same animal.
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