'Most famous wolf in the world' killed outside Yellowstone
Last Thursday as the news started to leak out, people were heartbroken to learn that a six year old Alpha female wolf known as 832F or more commonly known as 06 from Yellowstone National Park had been killed by hunters. She had been traveling outside of the park's perimeters most likely looking for food when someone in a cold and calculating move took her life away. Her mate, known as 754 was also killed last month by hunters.
06 was part of the popular and high-visible Lamar Canyon pack. She was so popular with wildlife watchers, that they referred to her as a ‘rock star.’ " She is the most famous wolf in the world,” said Jimmy Jones, a wildlife photographer who lives in Los Angeles and whose portrait of 832F appears in the current issue of the magazine American Scientist.
She was also highly valued by park biologists who tracked the pack's migratory patterns, eating habits, population spread and threats to their survival. 06 was fitted with a $4,000 collar with GPS tracking technology, which is being returned, said Daniel Stahler, a project director for Yellowstone’s wolf program. Based on data from the wolf’s collar, researchers knew that her pack rarely ventured outside the park, and then only for brief periods.
Although 11 wolves from Yellowstone have been killed this fall during the hunting season, her death was particularly disheartening to all those who knew her or of her. This year’s hunting season in the northern Rocky mountains has been especially controversial because of the high numbers of popular wolves and wolves fitted with research collars that have been killed just outside Yellowstone in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
These wolf hunts, which are sanctioned by recent federal and state rules applying to the northern Rockies, had been fiercely debated long before the Yellowstone wolves deaths. Wildlife advocates say that the wolf park populations (only 88 wolves) are not large enough to withstand state-sanctioned hunts. Some are saying that hunters are even targeting collared wolves as a way to get back at wolf restoration efforts by the federal government or for something as shallow as bragging rights.
The Yellowstone wolves attract tourist money, around $32 millon dollars a year. Yellowstone’s scenic Lamar Valley has been one of the best places to view wolves in the northern Rockies, and it attracts many visitors every year. It is hard to know just exactly what the impact of these wolf deaths will have on the park.
Yellowstone's scientists have acknowledged that the recent shootings will have an impact on the park's wolf research. But Dave Hallac, chief of the park's Center for Resources, has stated that "the number killed so far does not threaten the park's overall population."
Montana wildlife commissioner Shane Colton has said that officials will be discussing Yellowstone National Park hunting buffer zones at a commission meeting to be held today, Monday, Dec. 10th. Buffer zones around the park have long been requested by wolf advocates but in the past have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe now someone will listen.
The real tragedy though is that there are now broken wolf packs in Yellowstone - wolves who have lost their mates, pups without parents, packs without leaders. Their mournful howls will be heard echoing inside of the park - who will be listening to their cries of great loss?
Please take a minute to sign 2 petitions below that call for the creation of much needed buffer zones around Yellowstone National Park to help protect the park's iconic wolves.