Like Her Mother, Another Famous Yellowstone Wolf Killed by Trophy Hunter

In 2012, a hunter in Wyoming shot and killed Yellowstone National Park’s most famous wolf—alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, known as 832F or 06 for the year she was born—not far from the park’s protected area.

After that tragedy, 06′s daughter, named 926F or “Spitfire,” took over as the alpha for the pack. Just like her mom, Spitfire became a beloved and familiar sight in the park. Although she weighed only 80 pounds and was smaller than the other wolves in the Lamar Canyon pack, she more than made up for it in spirit. Her determination was vital in keeping the pack together over the years.

“I always called her the little wolf that could,” wildlife photographer Deby Dixon told the Jackson Hole Daily. “06 was well loved because she was bold and out there, but I don’t think that people got to watch her for as long as we watched this particular wolf.”

Just six years after her mother’s death, Spitfire has suffered the same fate. A trophy hunter shot and killed her in Cooke City, Montana, less than five miles from the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

And just like the hunter who shot her mother, Spitfire’s killer broke no laws.

“It was a legal harvest, and everything was legitimate about the way the wolf was taken,” Abby Nelson, a wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Jackson Hole Daily. “The circumstances are obviously a little bit harder for people to stomach, because that pack had showed signs of habituation.”

It’s currently wolf-hunting season in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. What’s especially hard to stomach is that when wolves wander outside the park boundaries into these states that border it, “they have zero protection,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of the nonprofit Predator Defense, told The Dodo. “This tragedy should be one more wake-up call,” he said.

Montana legalized wolf hunting in 2009. It allows hunters to kill five wolves in hunting zones just north of Yellowstone, but hunters regularly ignore this quota, the Jackson Hole Daily reports.

Spitfire was a fifth-generation descendant of the 31 wolves from Alberta, Canada reintroduced to Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. “One of the big reasons 926 is so very important to so many people is her lineage, which goes back to the very beginning,” Rick McIntyre, with the Yellowstone Wolf Project, told the Jackson Hole Daily.

For over 20 years, there has been an ongoing debate between conservationists who argue that as a key species, wolves play an essential role in the ecosystem, and hunters and ranchers who complain that the wolves are a livestock-killing nuisance.

To prevent more wolf killings near Yellowstone’s boundaries, the states surrounding the national park should enact laws that ban any from being hunted and killed. That’s what happened in 2001 in Ontario, Canada, after hunters were killing wolves outside of Algonquin Provincial Park.

The hunting ban resulted in what Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), called an amazing transition. “Protected from hunting, not only did the Algonquin wolf population hold steady, there was also a rapid transition to more stable, family-based packs,” she told The Dodo. “With added protections, eastern wolves reclaimed their place as a keystone species within the ecosystem.”

Until Yellowstone’s wolves are better protected, Dixon offered some good advice for advocates of their welfare. Instead of wasting our energy hating trophy hunters, we should focus instead on raising awareness and educating people about the wolves. “We’re not going to change the minds of the die-hard wolf haters,” she told the Jackson Hole Daily, “but we can change the minds of their children.”

TAKE ACTION

Please sign and share this petition asking the U.S. National Park service to create buffer zones around Yellowstone National Park to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

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Photo credit: Wolves of the Rockies/Facebook

118 comments

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 days ago

I still want trophy hunters to be publicly excecuted. Don't waste tax money on trials, have the military line them all up in front of a firing squad. They are tetrorists thtat are a national wecurity threat.

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Georgina Elizab M

The law needs to be changed.Hunters do more evil than good.I see no reason for hunting.I would like to see THAT KILLER with no weapons, alone surrounded by a pack of wolves.I wonder what he would do??

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

Thank you

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Gino C
Gino C8 days ago

Why would anyone do this?

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Barbara S
Barbara S8 days ago

horrible

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D8 days ago

When can we start hunting the hunters???...

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga8 days ago

pure evil

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Olivia M
Olivia M9 days ago

thank you

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