A trophy hunter kills a beloved Yellowstone wolf, even as attacks on wolves in Congress intensify

By on November 30, 2018 with 12 Comments

The disturbing trophy killing of an iconic wolf from Yellowstone National Park is a grim reminder that American carnivores are under serious threat, with the states they live in doing precious little to protect them and the U.S. House voting just this month to strip protections for them under the Endangered Species Act.

Spitfire, the Black Female, or simply 926F, was descended from the first group of wolves reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park from Alberta, Canada, 23 years ago. Her mother, “the most famous wolf in the world,” was a founding member and alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack so popular among wolf-watchers, until she was killed by a trophy hunter in Wyoming in 2012.

After her mother’s death, Spitfire stepped in as the alpha female to hold the Lamar Canyon pack together. Until last week. Spitfire, like her mother, was protected within the boundaries of the Yellowstone National Park. But the minute she stepped over that invisible line, she became a target.

The states involved are doing nothing to protect wolves. In fact, they’re only too eager to give trophy hunters and trappers a chance to kill them once they have stepped outside protected areas. State-sanctioned wolf trophy hunts are perfectly legal in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Montana allows up to four wolves to be trophy hunted or trapped in two areas bordering the park that are designated for hunting. There are no quotas for other designated hunting areas around the park or the rest of the state, and 255 wolves were killed during the 2017-2018 season in Montana alone.

For its part, Wyoming just increased its quota in the areas surrounding Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks by 32 percent, to a record 58 wolves. In the remaining 83 percent of the state, any number of wolves can be killed in just about any manner, including trapping and hounding, at any time, without a license. Idaho has virtually no limits on how many wolves can be killed.

Killing wolves has consequences, not just for the animals but also for a majority of Americans and wildlife watchers who would rather enjoy the beauty of a living wolf than a dead trophy on the wall. Trophy hunting national park wolves reduces visitors’ sightings. One 2016 study showed that wolf sightings in Yellowstone increased by 45 percent in years following no hunting of a wolf from a park pack and current research shows that killing park wolves can have a negative effect on pack persistence and reproduction.

Wolf- and grizzly-bear-watching tourism drives more than $1 billion in annual revenues to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, supporting thousands of jobs. According to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife watchers outspent hunters in 2016 by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1.

The overall situation could soon get worse, as wolves in other states could face the same threats. In recent years, we have seen well over 100 attacks to wolves and the Endangered Species Act and only two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R. 6784, that strips all federal protections for gray wolves in the continental United States. The bill would also bar the public from seeking redress through our federal court system.

We believe that language identical to H.R. 6784 is also at risk of being included in the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior.

You can help. Please make brief, polite phone calls to your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative and ask them to ensure that the final FY19 spending package does not contain harmful provisions that undermine the Endangered Species Act, such as delisting gray wolves. These beleaguered American carnivores need us to stand up for them now, more than ever.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Daniel O'Brien says:

    Leave the Wolves alone. We need them to keep the ecosystems in Balance where they live which means they should not be hunted because we need a good amount of them at Yellowstone and other areas of North America. I hope they’re still protected.

    • Dianne Wilson says:

      Interesting that in thus widely repirted story nowhere does the name or photo of the trophy murderer appear. Why is this so-called sportsman not identified? What weapon did he use? Fid ge bait the area to lure the wolf? Identify and shame these cowards!

  2. georgia gillespie says:

    I am beyond furious…i have called, i have written…nothing works. there must be some kind of authoritarian measure to stop these people. that is all they underdstand.

    • T. Studalt says:

      FYI: The Sportsman Alliance work against the HSUS. They have their own blog and write articles decrying HSUS all the time and they can’t stand Ricky Gervais. There are some power people in that organization with deep pockets to influence government. It also doesn’t help that the current administration has 2 trophy hunters (Trump boys) who are members of another longstanding and influential hunting organization Boone and Crockett. Money speaks and both groups, along with hunting organizations, have a lot of it to influence and socialize with government officials. There is likely quid pro quo somewhere. If you want to stop this, reach out to their leaders and not just the government.

  3. Penelope Bianchi says:

    It is heartbreaking and disgraceful. They are magnificent and beneficial animals.

    • Jed speiser says:

      Wolves have to be killed in order to maintain a healthy balance between prey and predator. The Wolf has cost more in hunters dollars that directly profit the state’s that used to have a prolific and viable self sustaining elk and deer herd. I did not say exterminate. I said reduce their
      Numbers so they don’t chase pregnant cow elk, buffalo, and deer around all winter forcing them to abort the fetus to save themselves if at all possible. That is the truth and harsh reality of the life of the Wolf. The upper peninsula of Michigan’s deer herd has been decimated and has cost millions every year to the state of Michigan since the reintroduction of the Wolf due to the massive decrease of deer hunters hunting there because of the lack of deer. The wolf generates zero dollars in revenue for our state yet costs us millions per year. What an awesome idea to bring them back from you HSUS members because they are so beautiful to look at. Please join reality for a moment and realize that without the hunters of this great nation you people would single handedly exterminate the entire eco system because you will continue to go to bed at nite thinking that bambi is a real deer and his best friend is a wolf and they play bingo together on Friday nites together. Check out your other success with the Wolf reintroduction on Drummond island with the Wolf and moose. The moose and rabbits are all dead and so are all the wolves. Keep it up and maybe you will be able to decimate all the buffalo. Deer. And Elk so that you can take a picture of the beautiful wolf and still bad mouth the hunters that are the ONLY reason there are still wolves anywhere at your fundraisers where you all wear leather and fur coats. Please take a reality pill and always remember that a few of everything must die for the greater benefit of many more.

  4. denise smith says:

    Please please please STOP the killing of these magnificent animals. We’ve lost over 60% of our wildlife since 1970 —– and we have NO right to kill them. And to kill them as a trophy seems even more deplorable in nature. We share this planet WITH animals – they are not here FOR us to kill. They are here for us to coexist and life with…. TOGETHER.

  5. Frances Recca says:

    I find the same tired complaints about the wolf predation on cattle herds, the wolves are dangerous to man(HUH???), the wolves destroy game animals ?????-they cull the herds and leave the strong , viable members of the herds for the SCUM TROPHY HUNTERS. The WOLF is a KEYSTONE SPECIES- for the unread- the keystone species affects all the other life forms in the environment and affects how healthy the ecosystem is. Guess what- you are killing your hunting grounds by your insane desire to destroy all wolves. Plant lifeiaffected because too many browsers will eliminate needed grasses and other flora. the wolves are the balance in the equation-do you get it yet?????????

  6. Charlotte A. Reback says:

    It is necessary to protect the grey wolf for maintenance of our eco-system. Why can there not be studies that will result in an evidence based solution to this perception of wolves being useless to the ecosystem and dangerous predators.

  7. Carl Slocum says:

    I hope this will educate those who wish to Hunt WOLVES for no other reason that to BOAST that they DID and CAN! Please watch !


  8. michael s kaupas says:

    I will never understand why people shoot animals for their own personal trophies. Wolves finally get back on track and now we kill them for sport. What a crock of crap.

  9. Alyson Overholt says:

    Stupid people. why do people have to do this? Do you kill them to have their head on a plaque in your home? Please stop killing theese magnificent creatures.

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