Rare White Wolf Illegally Shot Dead Inside Yellowstone National Park
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After watching Game of Thrones, I desperately wanted my own dire wolf because, let's be honest, they seem pretty sick.
Since that species is now extinct, you could argue that a white wolf is pretty close to the next best thing. So I was really upset to find out that a rare white wolf was illegally shot dead inside the famous Yellowstone National Park, USA.
Hikers apparently found the animal in the northern section of the park last month still alive - but she had to be euthanised due to her injuries.
A necropsy report found the wolf was 12 years old, twice the age of the average wolf in the park, and was shot with a rifle.
According to the park officials she had a broad range that extended from Hayden Valley to the Firehole River area to the northern portion of the park.
A statement from officials said: "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."
Credit: Yellowstone National Park
She was the alpha female and was only one of three white wolves left at Yellowstone. The park initially offered a $5,000 (£3,880) reward for information that lead authorities to the shooter, but that has been doubled by an offer from the Wolves of the Rockies in Montana.
WMCAction News reports that authorities believe hunters could have been involved in the killing, saying the wolves prey on their big-game animals as well as cattle.
A statement released by Yellowstone National Park hinted that the shooting was no accident.
"The wolf was one of the most recognizable and sought after by visitors to view and photograph," said officials.
Tourist shot of the wolf. Credit: Facebook/Laurie Clarke
People on Facebook reminisced about coming across the famous wolf.
Shauna Naous says: "I had the great joy of seeing this beautiful grand dame and her pack on a visit in February. It breaks my heart to hear of her demise. May hell-fire rain down on the scum who shot her."
While Jessica Plesko adds: "I am devastated by this news. The best part of our visit to Yellowstone was catching a glimpse of the wolves and listening to them howl. This is disgusting and horrific."
The wolf population was eradicated from the park in the 1920s because it was deemed a detriment to other wildlife. But in 1995, they were reintroduced to combat the elk population. Ecologists were amazed when they saw what happened when a top predator returned to an ecosystem.
Another tourist shot of the wolf. Credit: Facebook/John Price
The University of California noted that the wolves, along with less deep snows, helped scavengers in the park find food.
Wildlife biologist Doug Smith says: "What happened is that the presence of wolves triggered a still-unfolding cascade effect among animals and plants - one that will take decades of research to understand.
"It is like kicking a pebble down a mountain slope where conditions were just right that a falling pebble could trigger an avalanche of change."
But now there are only two wolves left in the park.
Featured Image Credit: Yellowstone National Park/Flickr