Rare White Wolf Shot: Protected Wolf Euthanized At Yellowstone National Park

A rare white wolf was illegally shot at Yellowstone National Park and had to be euthanized. The white wolf was well known to park staff and a favorite among visitors.

Yellowstone National Park officials and an advocacy group for wolves have offered a $10,000 reward for information which leads police officers to the unknown person (or persons) who shot the rare white wolf.

Hikers at the national park happened across the suffering 12-year-old rare white wolf on April 11. The female wolf was found near Gardiner, Montana along the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

“People take matters into their own hands and feel they are above the law and they kind of flaunt that fact that they can do what they want to do and there’s no repercussions,” Wolves of the Rockies President Mark Cook said.

The rare white wolf was the alpha female in a den of wolves which had been dubbed the “Canyon Pack.” Photographers, both amateur and professional, often hoped to catch at least a quick glimpse of the majestic wolf and her pack while at the national park, the Daily Mail reports.

Yellowstone National Park offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons who shot the rare white wolf on Thursday after announcing the initial findings from the necropsy report. The Montana-based Wolves of the Rockies group offered up an additional $5,000 to increase the overall amount of the reward.

Officials at the national park have not yet shared with the public any possible leads or investigation updates pertaining to the shooting death of the white wolf. Cook believes the person who killed the rare wolf is an individual who is angry about the decision to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park 20 years ago.

Park officials have not yet shared any possible motives they believe existed to kill the white wolf. The wolf population in the park now numbers about 100, with many hunters and ranchers being vocal in their opposition to the growing pack.

Wolves are predators and commonly prey on large game which hunters are eager to have for themselves, such as elk. Ranchers have long opposed the reintroduction of wolves due to the number of cattle they attack and kill, sometimes inside well-fenced pasture.

The shooting of the rare white wolf happened as a transition in the protected status of the animals in Wyoming was being debated in federal court. In March, the court ruled that wolves could be removed from the endangered animals list.

In 2014, environmentalists and wolf advocacy groups convinced a judge to once again place wolves on the protection list in Wyoming. A shoot-on-sight provision existed in most regions of Wyoming. No similar law existed in either Montana or Idaho.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Wyoming had addressed the concerns about shooting wolves on site and removed them from the endangered list once again. Wolves were reclassified by Wyoming state officials as livestock predators.

The ruling meant that while wolves could be shot in most parts of Wyoming, the animals were still permitted to roam without fear of a bullet in the Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and in specified wild forested areas.

It is reportedly rare to see wolves wander far from the protection Yellowstone National Park offers their pack. The rare white wolf was discovered with a gunshot wound more than 70 miles away from where the predator could have been legally shot in Wyoming. The wolf was found just two weeks after the species had been removed from the endangered list.

The white wolf euthanized by Yellowstone National Park officials was twice the age of a wolf typically found in the park and had at least 20 pups – 14 of which were yearlings. The rare wolf traveled with the alpha male from her pack for at least nine years, staffers at the national park say.

What do you think about the shooting of the rare white wolf found at Yellowstone National Park?

[Featured Image by Jef Wodniack/Shutterstock]

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