Hundred of miles from its Wyoming home, "914F" wandered to the rocky North Rim of the Grand Canyon last fall—the first gray wolf spotted there in 70 years, the Arizona Republic notes—before heading into Utah, likely searching for food or a mate.
But in December, the wolf's journey came to an end after a hunter there mistook her for a coyote and shot her dead, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Using DNA testing, the US Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the 3-year-old collared animal was the same one seen at the Grand Canyon, the Republic notes.
"It is nothing short of a tragedy that this wolf's journey across the west was cut short," Eva Sargent, a director for Defenders of Wildlife, tells the Chronicle.
"This brave and ambitious female gray wolf … had already become a symbol of what gray wolf recovery should look like: animals naturally dispersing to find suitable habitat." Gray wolves weren't always isolated to certain parts of the country: All of North America used to be their home, Defenders of Wildlife notes, but they were killed off throughout much the US in the 1930s.
What's worrying some animal advocates is that the federal government is considering removing endangered-species status from gray wolves in all regions: When they were delisted from the Northern Rockies, mass killings of the creatures took place in multiple states, including Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
"Sadly, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service preparing to remove all protections for gray wolves, except for Mexican gray wolves, in the near future, it will become harder and harder for wolves to travel safely, and less … likely that we will hear their howls echo through places like the Grand Canyon," Sargent tells the Chronicle.
(Wolves could be hurt by a border fence.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Utah Hunter Kills Famed 'Grand Canyon' Gray WolfMore From Newser
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