Late last year, a gray wolf was seen near the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This type of sighting hadn't happened for decades, so we wrote about it, obviously.
People seemed fairly jazzed about the find, because it wasn't a thing that happens every day. "We're pretty excited about it," Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Washington Post.
But in late December, a northern gray wolf was fatally shot by a hunter in Utah. Wildlife officials said the shooting was an accident; the hunter thought the wolf was a coyote.
And now, tests have confirmed that the wolf shot by the hunter was the same one caught prowling near the Grand Canyon in the fall, officials said in a news release Wednesday.
"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," Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the release, which stated that Echo got its name after "a contest of hundreds of schoolchildren around the world."
By the mid-20th century, the only places gray wolves could be found below the Canadian border were a sliver of land in northern Minnesota and Michigan's Isle Royale.
The species was then protected under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. Conservation efforts and reintroduction programs helped gray wolves return to parts of their range. There are now more than 5,000 gray wolves in the continental United States, primarily in the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as eastern Oregon and Washington.
Echo was a 3-year old female wolf, according to the Center for Biological Diversity news release. She was given a radio collar after she was previously caught in Wyoming, the center stated.
It also noted that she had "traveled at least 750 miles seeking a mate across a vast region that is entirely bereft of wolves."
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