She was the first grey wolf seen in the Grand Canyon in 70 years, having traveled 500 miles from her home to the majestic Arizona canyon, and now she’s gone. Known as “Echo,” the lone grey wolf is confirmed to be the same creature killed by a hunter in Utah in December. He reportedly mistook her for a coyote.
Wildlife advocates are understandably outraged. The hunter, whose name hasn’t been released to the public, reported the accidental killing right after it occurred. He was legally hunting coyotes, which are considered a pest in Utah since they prey on pets and livestock. Utah has in effect a bounty program which pays hunters $50 each for coyote kills. It is illegal to hunt wolves in all but two states in the contiguous United States; only Idaho and Montana exclude grey wolves from their endangered species list and therefore allow wolf hunting.
The lone female wolf was observed in October 2014 near the north rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. She was first collared in Wyoming back in January of the same year, and received her nickname from a 10-year-old boy who won a contest. Wildlife managers had been tracking her movements from state to state. After the canyon sighting last fall, nobody reported seeing Echo again until the Utah coyote hunter reported the kill.
Following the hunter’s report, federal authorities confiscated the wolf’s body and submitted it to the University of Idaho for genetic testing. The results confirmed that it was the same animal first collared in Wyoming a year ago and seen in the fall in the Grand Canyon.
Echo’s appearance in the Grand Canyon marked the first time a grey wolf had been seen in that area in over 70 years. There are no other known wolves in the area, according to wildlife officials, but there could be. Wolves are stealthy creatures and although lone wolves are not uncommon, Echo’s presence does seem to suggest there may be other individuals lurking in the region.
The investigation into Echo’s death is ongoing.