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DNA Test Confirms Death of Gray Wolf Seen Near the Grand Canyon

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Federal wildlife officials have confirmed that an endangered gray wolf mistaken for a coyote and killed by a hunter was the same one recently seen near the Grand Canyon. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Echo — as the wolf had been unofficially named — was the first of its species known to roam the area near the national park in more than 70 years.

In the ‘30s, gray wolves were eradicated in northern Arizona. But, biologists determined the 3-year-old female seen near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon last fall had traveled more than 450 miles from Wyoming. The University of Idaho confirmed through DNA testing that it was the same wolf killed in southern Utah.

Mike Jimenez is the northern Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“There’s lot of conflicts that come with wolves. That takes time to resolve those conflicts, but the biology, the recovery program has been very successful. Wolves dispersing is something we’ve known about for a long, long time and it’s always remarkable when you just see what they’re capable of. The program goes on. The population is very secure and we’ll continue to have these long-distance dispersals,” Jimenez says.

Wildlife advocates had hoped the wolf would signal a resurgence of the animals in the Grand Canyon. Gray wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the investigation into the killing is ongoing.

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