A preliminary necropsy has revealed one of Yellowstone’s most rare and famous wolves was shot.
A few weeks ago, we reported the Canyon Pack’s alpha female, beloved by biologists and wolf watchers alike, was found seriously wounded within park boundaries. Park staff decided to euthanize her on the scene after determining she was dying from her wound.
Besides being the Canyon Pack alpha female, the wolf was also one of three Yellowstone white wolves; she was also 12 ½ years old, a venerable age for any wolf.
According to a Yellowstone press release, the necropsy was conducted at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon. Officials determined the wolf died of a gunshot wound.
According to Yellowstone officials, law enforcement is seeking information about the incident and is offering a reward. From the Yellowstone press release:
National Park Service law enforcement believes the wolf was shot on the north side of the park, near Gardiner, or near the Old Yellowstone Trail which is located in the park on the northern boundary. The incident likely occurred sometime between April 10 at 1 a.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m.
“Due to the serious nature of this incident, a reward of up to $5,000.00 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.
If you have information about this incident that could help with this investigation, please contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB). Your tips will be confidential. You don’t have to tell them who you are, but please tell them what you know:
• CALL the ISB Tip Line 888-653-0009
• TEXT to 202-379-4761
• ONLINE www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip”
• EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
• MESSAGE via Facebook @InvestigativeServicesNPS or Twitter @SpecialAgentNPS
This wolf was one of three known white wolves in the park. She lived to 12 years, twice the age of an average wolf in the park, and had a broad range that extended from Hayden Valley to the Firehole River area to the northern portion of the park. As the alpha female for over nine years with the same alpha male, she had at least 20 pups, 14 of which lived to be yearlings. She was one of the most recognizable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph.
The investigation is ongoing; Yellowstone officials will provide additional information when available.
The incident is sure to stoke the already intense debate surrounding wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area and their place in the park—especially as Wyoming is poised to assume management duties once more. Ahead of that, at least one advocacy group is petitioning the state’s Game and Fish Commission to establish a 31-mile “wolf kill” buffer outside park boundaries.