A Yellowstone wolf famed for her rare all-white coat had to be euthanized last month after hikers found her suffering from a fatal gunshot wound, says a new report from the National Park Service.
The “mortally” wounded wolf, the alpha female of the Canyon Pack, was discovered on April 11 near Gardiner, Montana. Hikers reported her injuries to park staff and, after being examined, she was put down.
“National Park Service law enforcement believes the wolf was shot on the north side of the park, near Gardiner, or near the Old Yellowstone Trail which is located in the park on the northern boundary,” states the report. “The incident likely occurred sometime between April 10 at 1 a.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m.”
Conservationists often find themselves at odds with ranchers who live in the Yellowstone area because wolves, only reintroduced to Yellowstone 20 years ago, often prey on ranchers’ cattle and other farm animals.
This particular wolf—thought to have been shot by a hunter or rancher—was not only special for her coat, but also the longevity of her life.
She was said to be one of only three known white wolves in the park and, at 12 years old, was about twice the age of the average wolf there. “As the alpha female for over nine years with the same alpha male, she had at least 20 pups, 14 of which lived to be yearlings,” the park said.
The National Park Service is offering a $5,000 reward “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act,” according to Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. An additional $5,200 reward is being offered by Wolves of the Rockies, a wolf advocacy group.