The female alpha wolf was shot and killed last Thursday when she was outside the park’s boundaries, reports The New York Times.
The wolf, known as 832F, was the female alpha of the park’s most famous Lamar Canyon pack. She was considered a “rock star” to researchers and wildlife watchers and had been a favorite of tourists for the past six years.
The female alpha was fitted by researchers with a $4,000 collar with GPS tracking technology. Daniel Staher, a project director for Yellowstone’s wolf program, announced that the tracking collar will be returned to researchers.
Researchers have seen, based on the collar’s data, that the most famous Yellowstone wolf’s pack rarely ventures outside the park. When they do venture out, it is only for brief periods of time.
The popular wolf’s death has sparked outrage among conservationists, who are calling for changes to Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana’s wolf hunting laws, notes The Daily Mail. There is currently no law against shooting collared wolves as long as it isn’t done inside Yellowstone.
The female alpha’s death makes the eight collared wolf killed by hunters so far this year, prompting conservationists to ask for a buffer zone around the park where wolves can still roam free and not be hunted. The development is the latest in an ongoing debate between conservationists and hunters in the area.
Conservationists believe that, because the wolf population has declined by about 60 percent in the region, the canines should not be hunted. Others, however, contend that killing the wolves is necessary in order to prevent livestock attacks and protecting big game populations.
Montana’s wildlife commissioner, Shane Colton, stated that the idea of a buffer zone will be discussed during a commission meeting on Monday. Colton stated, “We don’t want to close any area off if we don’t have to. But if we keep losing collared wolves … management becomes difficult. We want to do this first trapping season right.”
Yellowstone’s chief scientist has acknowledged that the recent shootings, like that of the “most” famous alpha wolf, have had an impact on the park’s wolf research, though the numbers killed so far do not threaten the park’s overall population.
[Image from ShutterStock]