For Immediate Release
Genetic Test Confirms Grand Canyon Wolf Shot in Utah
Animal Traveled at Least 750 Miles Before Allegedly Mistaken for Coyote and Shot
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK - Genetic tests show that a female wolf shot and killed in southwestern Utah on Dec. 28 was the same animal observed in October near the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials confirmed the wolf’s identity today after completing a DNA comparison using scat collected from the wolf spotted in the national park.
Three weeks prior to her death, the animal was named “Echo” through a contest of hundreds of schoolchildren around the world who were fascinated by the first northern gray wolf to return to the Grand Canyon since the last was killed in the region in the 1940s. The three-year old female was first captured and radio-collared a year ago near Cody, Wyo., and had traveled at least 750 miles seeking a mate across a vast region that is entirely bereft of wolves.
“Echo came to a heartbreaking end, but her odyssey through forest and desert shows that excellent habitat still remains for wolves in the American West,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Her death also demonstrates that public education, law enforcement and solid science are needed now more than ever to recover endangered wolves, and that the last thing they need is to have their federal protections yanked.”
In May 2011, the same month Echo was born, Congress ended a budget standoff by approving must-pass legislation that included a rider removing Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, along with those in portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Removal of federal protections has thus far cost thousands of wolves their lives through state-authorized hunting, trapping and strangulation-snaring by members of the public, and through federal trapping, strangulation and aerial gunning.
The 2011 budget act forbade judicial review of the decision to remove protections. In contrast, federal courts have reversed as unlawful administrative delisting decisions extending to wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states. Consequently wolves remain on the endangered species list everywhere in the contiguous 48 states except Montana and Idaho, eastern Washington and Oregon, and northeastern Utah. However, prosecutions of people who kill wolves are exceedingly rare.
Congress now threatens to extend the precedent of the 2011 delisting through another rider that would preclude protection of wandering wolves such as Echo, and prevent the recovery of wolves to suitable habitats where they could benefit the ecosystems.
“Echo’s killing illustrates the perils that wolves face and the imperative to maintain federal protections as called for under the science-based standards of the Endangered Species Act,” said Robinson. “Keeping wolves on the endangered list is the basis for the public education we need, to enable more wolves to live and thrive and minimize conflict.”
Wolves have recovered to only about 10 percent of their historic range in the United States, and researchers have identified more than 350,000 square miles of unoccupied suitable wolf habit including remote stretches of the southern Rockies, Adirondacks, Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.