First gray wolf seen at Grand Canyon in 70 years killed by Utah hunter

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A killed last year by a Utah hunter was “Echo”, a female that had garnered international attention after roaming from Wyoming to become the first of the protected animals seen at the Grand Canyon in Arizona in 70 years, US wildlife managers said on Wednesday.

News that the lone wolf spotted last fall near the north rim of the Grand Canyon was the same animal later killed in Utah by a hunter who said he mistook it for a ignited outrage among wildlife advocates.

“It’s tragic that Echo traveled over 500 miles (800km) only to be cut down by an incredibly irresponsible coyote hunter,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians.

Gray wolves like Echo were released into in Wyoming and the central Idaho wilderness in the mid-90s to restore their numbers in the northern Rockies. Photograph: Panoramic Images/Getty Images/Panoramic RR

Authorities have not released the name of the coyote hunter, who in December reported to Utah wildlife officers that he had accidentally shot and killed a radio-collared wolf near the border with Arizona.

It is illegal to kill wolves without a special permit in the lower 48 states, where most wolves are protected under the US Act. Wolves in just two states – Idaho and Montana – are not on a federal list of endangered and and can be legally hunted.

Federal wildlife officials said an investigation into the incident is ongoing. Echo was the first gray wolf to appear in the national park in Arizona since the 1940s, when the last of the creatures there was killed as part of an extensive eradication campaign, the US Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The carcass of the wolf was confiscated by federal authorities, who submitted it to the University of Idaho for genetic testing that confirmed it was the same animal first collared in Wyoming in January 2014 and seen later that year in the Grand Canyon, Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Steve Segin said.

Gray wolves have been at the center of a bitter debate in western states since several dozen were released in Yellowstone National Park and the central Idaho wilderness in the mid-1990s in a push by US wildlife managers to restore an animal that had been hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction in the northern Rockies.

Ranchers and hunters in the region blame wolves for preying on livestock and big-game animals like elk favored by sportsmen. Conservationists argue wolves are restoring public rangelands and mountain forests damaged from overgrazing by deer and elk whose populations swelled in the absence of natural predators.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 11 Feb 2015.


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Pierre Gagnaux
Pierre Gagnaux

For me, if you have to hunt for eating, or your survival it's natual as the wolf make it on same preys, but if you kill just for pleasure or if you kill an animal who is a natural predator for species you eat, you're only a psychopath as a man killing another man. Literally, if you ask this at a psychiatrist, it will confirm that people who can kill just for fun are psychopaths, the life is something you have no rights if your survival is not concerned, Then if I'm in the same thought as JD, when I'm… Read more »

Iain Gibson

Is Karla joking? "I've hunted my entire life and from what I see here it's obvious you are plainly biased." That is such twisted logic I had to laugh. So you're not biased then, Karla? It often appears that some people who live close to nature have such a poor understanding of how nature works in ecological terms. Wolves and coyotes just kill for the hell of it? No wonder hunters irrationally hate these wild creatures if they believe their own insight to the minds of other species. Anthropomorphic nonsense. Wolves and coyotes will also "destroy the prey base if… Read more »

John Tobias

Unfortunate, but not unexpected. If a hunter can not tell a wolf from a coyote then maybe they should not be hunting! I am not anti-hunters, just anti ignorant ones.

Leigh Lofgren

So terribly sad and tragic and I am very anti hunting, but must give credit to the man that killed this wolf and reported it. That said, he should be heavily fined or banned from hunting.

Jd Creager
Jd Creager

Pierre, bring it on!!

Karla Yocum Stanley

You guys are totally screwed up. You know little about hunters and hunting. I've hunted my entire life and from what I see here it's obvious you are plainly biased. My grandfather and other hunters in the mid 40's 50 insisted the efforts and laid out the cash to fund restoration long before most of you were born. If this were the first wolf seen in 70 years it very understandable that it could be mistaken for a coyote. I dour any of you have ever even hunted of killed a coyote. Like wolves coyotes just kill for the hell… Read more »

Nina Stavlund

This is so typical. Trigger happy people killing everything around them. Hunting is suck a primal instinct that does not fit the 21 Century. It's so sad. We need the Wolf, and I wish people would stop being so afraid of them, and leave them alone.


Wow, a hunter who couldn’t tell a radio-collared wolf from a coyote!

Pierre Gagnaux
Pierre Gagnaux

Sorry, but when I can kill a hunter, it's not a crime if this is not one…