Straying outside Yellowstone National Park turned out to be a fatal mistake for one animal as it was announced Sunday that a famous wolf was shot and killed after it wandered outside park boundaries. The wolf, named simply 832F, was a favorite among scientists and tourists for her high visibility as a member of the Lamar Canyon pack.
The New York Times reported “the most famous wolf in the world” was an alpha female and was killed legally by a rancher after venturing out of the park’s territory. Described as a “rock star” by tourists, the wolf was recently implanted with a $2,000 GPS tracking system under her fur that showed the Lamar Canyon wolf pack rarely left Yellowstone and, when it did, returned after a brief time.
More than 1 million visitors were estimated to have seen 832F since she was born in 2006. John Hayes, operator of photography and wildlife blog Oops John, wrote that there was something special about watching the wolf pack, led by its famous leader, in its natural habitat.
“Alpha Female 832F, despite her age, or maybe because of it, is a consummate professional at what she does – which is to protect and guide the Lamar Canyon Pack from one generation to the next in a land wild and unforgiving,” Hayes wrote.
“Crafty and courageous, 832F has a dedicated cadre of enthusiasts who faithfully chronicle her every move, such as they can. Wolf-watching is addictive. I went to Yellowstone in June for a two-week visit and ended up staying three months. And while I was never part of the 'inner circle' of lupophiles, I quickly found myself crawling out of bed day after day at 4 a.m. and driving an hour and a half in the dark to be on site at sunrise.”
The news is especially sad for wildlife enthusiasts because 2012 is the first year in decades in which it has been legal to shoot wolves in Wyoming. Wolf populations in the region have rebounded after years on the decline and ranchers maintain that killing the canines is the most efficient way to protect their land and cattle. Eight wolves have been killed this season in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, according to Mother Nature Network.
The death of this famous wolf is sure to stoke the debate as just last month another Lamar Canyon wolf was killed under similar circumstances. The legalized shootings have made it difficult for scientists in the area, who have depended on reliable population numbers to study the best methods of conservation.
“She was without a doubt the most famous wolf in the world, hands down,” Kim Bean, vice president of Wolves of the Rockies, told ABC News. “I watched her since her birth, basically. She was an amazing wolf to watch. She was definitely the most researched in the park. ... She's gone.”