A gray wolf accidentally killed by a hunter in Utah may be “Echo,” an animal that garnered nationwide attention when she became the first of her species to be seen at the Grand Canyon in over 70 years.
Though wolves are protected in Utah by the Endangered Species Act, a hunter, who has not been identified, reported to wildlife officials that he shot and killed a wolf on Sunday after mistaking it for a coyote. According to the Daily Mail, the wolf in question was wearing a radio collar and was killed near the city of Beaver in southwest Utah, close to the Arizona border. Though wolves can only be hunted with a special permit, Utah allows for coyotes to be shot on sight.
Echo. The first wolf to be seen in the Grand Canyon in over 70 years. pic.twitter.com/yOBN5Kp7Dp
— Trey W. (@Trey_TKE) December 10, 2014
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Martinez noted that information gleaned from the wolf’s radio collar identified it as a three-year-old female. The wolf had been captured and collared in northwest Wyoming in January.
It may be weeks before tests will determine if the wolf that was killed is the same one that was recently spotted in the Grand Canyon, according to Reuters. That animal was nicknamed “Echo” after it was spotted near the canyon, apparently traveling hundreds of miles from the area of the Northern Rockies, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Echo was the first wolf sighted in the region since the 1940s, when a massive eradication campaign was waged against the species.
— Gina Chronowicz (@ginachron) December 30, 2014
Authorities noted that the incident is being investigated by federal and state conservation officers as a possible violation of wildlife laws. They also point out, however, that the hunter responsible for the wolf’s death reported the killing immediately, as required by law. Martinez said that while Utah regulations require hunters to be sure of their targets before shooting, mistakes do happen on occasion.
“It’s something we train people for in hunter education classes but it’s not a unique thing,” he observed.
— Yahoo (@Yahoo) December 31, 2014
Roughly 25 percent of the Northern Rockies’ wolf population, thought to number around 1,700 individuals, are regularly tracked. Physiological differences set them distinctly apart from other grey wolf populations in the southwest.
Regardless of whether or not the animal killed in Utah was Echo, conservation advocates asserted that the wolf’s death was still tragic.
[Image: AP via the Daily Mail]