After 89-year absence a wolf returns to Iowa and is shot dead

After 89-year absence a wolf returns to Iowa and is shot dead

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DNA testing has confirmed that an animal shot in February in Iowa’s Buchanan County was in fact a , according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is the first confirmed () in the U.S. state since 1925.

Experts believe the wolf likely traveled south from Wisconsin or Minnesota, the latter of which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48.

The Iowa wolf, which was a 65-70 pound healthy female, was shot and killed in February of this year by a hunter who mistook it for a . Although wolves remain a protected species in Iowa, the hunter was not cited, because he believed the animal to be a coyote and has cooperated with authorities, including bringing the wolf to them in the first place.

“I was surprised but not that surprised,” DNA specialist Vince Evelsizer told the Gazette. “Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them.”

Reintroduced wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by: Barry O’Neill/U.S. Park Service.

After being nearly exterminated across the continental U.S., gray wolves have returned to many states in the last two decades, both due to reintroductions and populations migrating from Canada. Gray wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan. During the same time wolves have been vindicated by science as key ecological species. As top predators, wolves not only manage prey populations of animals such as deer and elk, but also change their behavior, curbing unhindered grazing. For example, the wolf’s return to Yellowstone National park led to a resurgence in young forest and a subsequent explosion in biodiversity.

But in many states wolves are now actively hunted and trapped. A legislative rider stripped the wolves of protection from the Endangered Species Act in 2011, the only animal to ever lose its protection in this way.

As of January this year, hunters and trappers have killed 2,567 gray wolves in the U.S.’s lower 48 states since 2011. In all around 6,000 wolves are thought to inhabit the lower 48 now, up from a nadir of 300 before the gray wolf gained protection in 1974.

This article was written by for

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Thomas Murphy

well why don't we double our population and wipe out all species – including ourselves..

Michele Jankelow

Why do so many Americans resort to killing and killing and killing! What a shame on a nation!

Stella Hassan Kuperberg
Stella Hassan Kuperberg

Maybe someone somewhere could mistake a hunter for a Jack Ass, and shoot them dead. (by pure accident of course.) I cannot understand when a coyote looked just like a wolf. Both are on my property, and even a dumb door stump like me could tell the difference.

Linda French

Your not a hunter if you do not know what your shooting!!

Carolyn Bramwell

I live in western Ky near two controlled wildlife reserves and enjoy seeing a variety of wildlife on our property. I am all but certain that I saw a large grey wolf trot across our meadow. Having a lot of coyotes around I first judged him to be one but on closer observation he was just way too large and his color was not that of a coyote. I was pretty surprised. We have a lot of folks in our area that continue the culture of shooting for sport and pass it onto their children. Breaks my heart!

Judy Moran
Judy Moran

You are right on!! Hunters could certainly use a dose of their own medicine, then maybe they'd think twice before shooting another living creature… that is, IF they survive!!

Madawaska Ornitours

The first wolf to return to New Brunswick, Canada about the same year, was also shot dead by someone saying to have mistaken it for a coyote. Now, if wolves return to New Brunswick, this will have a major effect on the Province's political forestry [not "Forest Policy"] approach to the handling [not "management" of public forests, and the one who runs the show from outside the government, will need to modify cutting [not "harvesting"] practices in favour of this wide ranging species. The same applies to the Eastern Cougar, also not confirmed in the Province since the early 1900's.

Linda French
Linda French

To much clear cutting going on in NB – to the point that it has ruined the rivers, and your salmon…with the present gov. you have you can expect it to follow the Harper policies – no environment protect, no wildlife protection, and who cares attitude about more large tankers exporting oil – who cares about the whales and sea life and fishing that will be destroyed….for the wolf's sake I hope they stay out of N.B.

Fran Occupy Hoef-Bouchard
Fran Occupy Hoef-Bouchard

Crazy gun advocates, misinformed ranchers, greedy land developers and woefully inept wildlife agencies are to blame for the almost total annihilation of the wolf and many other species. But it is the hunters who are the real problem. Think about it. Someone who derives pleasure out of killing another animal simply for the fun of it has to have something mentally wrong with them, yet society seems to think, because it has been a cultural thing that it is somehow OK. The ills of humanity will continue until we address these most basic issues.

Iain Gibson

I agree with Chas. The obsessive gun culture must drive it to some extent, and it seems to me that the main winners in man's inhumanity to his fellow man, and to wildlife, are the arms manufacturers. However we in the UK can't claim the moral high ground, as far too many here also kill wildlife for pleasure.

Leonid  Fedyantsev

This is really sad story…

Don Hamilton

Sad,, one day it will be way too late!!!

Maria Teresa Ronca Toto
Maria Teresa Ronca Toto

the man might tell the truth, but what was he doing with a rifle shooting another animal ! These people still live in pre-historic times when they had to kill an animal to survive !! do they still need that. It's abominable and in some countries this man would have to serve jail.

Chas Fleming

What's this obsession with hunting that seems to be like a curse in the US. Having exterminated entire species (Passenfger Pigeon), killing animals for fun is in their DNA and I don't get it.