National Geographic says that a DNA test has confirmed that the lone wolf traveling the area around the Grand Canyon is a gray wolf. This lone wolf is a long way from its home in the Northern Rockies. Experts believe she has made the long journey in search of a mate.
Gray wolves are protected in Arizona, but the species disappeared there in the 1940s. Many conservationists hope that the gray wolf’s presence is a sign of the majestic animals return to the region.
The lone wolf was spotted several times throughout November. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were able to gather some of the animal’s feces in the Kalbab National Forest.
The sample was sent off to the University of Idaho’s Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics. DNA tests revealed that the animal was a female gray wolf from the Northern Rocky Mountains. The lone female traveled at least 450 miles from her home, which is uncommon for gray wolves, reports NBC News.
“Wolves, particularly young wolves, can be quite nomadic, dispersing great distances across the landscape. Such behavior is not unusual. Officials were unsuccessful in their attempts to capture the lone wolf so that they could collect a blood sample and remove the inactive radio collar around the animal’s neck. Further analysis of the wolf’s DNA over the next few weeks could help determine the identity of the wolf, if it had been captured and sampled before on its home turf. The wolf is not related to the small population of Mexican wolves that lives in southern Arizona and New Mexico for juveniles as they travel to find food or another mate,” explains Benjamin Tuggle, FWS director for the southwest region.
This beautiful lone wolf is a fertile female, so finding a mate is most likely the reason she has traveled so far southward, reports Tuscon.com.
“It’s looking for love. It leaves the core population and doesn’t know the love of its life is going to be right over the next hill, so it just keeps traveling. If only there were some wolves nearby,” Ed Bangs, a former federal wolf expert in the region said.
The closest wolves are over 200 miles away in the White Mountains. All that stands between this lone wolf and the others is the Grand Canyon, and sadly, our wildlife bureaucracy.
The FWS released plans this week on how they would like to reintroduce wolves back into the region. They plan on expanding the area wolves are allowed to wander. The service, however, has strict northern limits for the Mexican gray wolf. Wildlife management prevents wolves from wandering North West toward the Grand Canyon. Wolves north of that line can be picked up or even killed.
If the gray wolf is to survive, man must step back and let them move about as they need to. Our rules and regulations may in the end prevent this lone wolf from finding what she has traveled so far for… love.