ENDANGERED SPECIES -- A wolf made headlines last month for roaming hundreds of miles from Wyoming to Utah. About the same time, another wolf, from Idaho, became the first in Arizona in seven decades. But someone wasn't paying attention.
Utah coyote hunter kills wolf near Beaver
70-pound female came from Cody, Wyoming
By Brett Prettyman/The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah wildlife officials have confirmed a protected 3-year-old female collared gray wolf was mistaken for a coyote and killed by a hunter near Beaver on Sunday. The 70-pound animal had been collared in Cody, Wyoming, in January, 2014.
The hunter shot the wolf about 5 miles east of Beaver in Beaver County on the south end of the Tushar Mountains and called Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) law enforcement officials upon noticing the collar. State conservation officers then contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We are still investigating, but it seems initially that it was a case of mistaken identity,” said DWR director Greg Sheehan.
Sheehan said it is possible the hunter could face citations for killing the animal protected as endangered by the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act in that part of Utah. The federal agency will conduct the investigation.
This is the first documented killing of a gray wolf in Utah since the animals were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and Idaho in the mid-1990s.
“This is a very sad day for wolf conservation and for Utah. All competent wildlife biologists already know that coyote hunting, including our state bounty program, is ineffective, and therefore a waste of money – and now we see that is is also a threat to other wildlife and to wolf recovery,” said Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, based in Salt Lake City.
A picture of what appears to be a wolf crossing Highway 14 east of Cedar City was taken by a member of the public in early December. Sheehan said there is a chance the wolf killed Sunday could be the same animal.
It is also possible that the canine killed near Beaver could be the female wolf that has been hanging around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this year.
Wildlife officials confirmed a wolf in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah back in August. That animal, believed to be a large male that had been collared near the border of Idaho and Canada, has not been spotted since September. His radio collar was failing at the time and there have been no new sightings of the animal.