The endangered female gray wolf seen on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in the fall of 2014 is the same animal a hunter killed in Utah later that year, a new genetic analysis reveals. The researchers compared DNA from tissue samples from the dead wolf with DNA taken from wolf scat collected near the canyon in November. The two were a match, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today. The lone wolf (pictured) was wearing a radio collar at the time of her death, and FWS identified her as 914F. She’d been collared near Cody, Wyoming, on 8 January 2014, but by the time she reached Arizona it had stopped working, and efforts to capture her and replace it failed. Researchers don’t know the route she took to reach the Grand Canyon, but she likely traveled more than 700 kilometers on that journey—becoming the first wolf in northern Arizona since the animals were exterminated there 70 years ago. Conservationists hailed her appearance in the region as a sign that the recovery of the gray wolf is still in its early stages, with plenty of habitat as yet unoccupied. They also said she demonstrated that FWS’s ongoing attempts to remove the canines from the protection of the Endangered Species Act are premature. Yet even with those protections, wolf 914F, thought to be about 3 years old, died at the hands of humans. The man who shot her was a Utah state–authorized coyote bounty hunter. He apparently mistook the wolf for a coyote and shot her in the Tushar Mountains, about 320 kilometers north of the Grand Canyon. The investigation into her killing continues.
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