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By Lorraine Chow
A cherished Lamar Valley wolf known as 926F was shot dead after a legal hunt just five miles outside the sanctuary of Yellowstone National Park, prompting calls from advocacy groups for greater protection of the region’s wolves.
Tragically, the 7-year-old female was the daughter of Wolf 06—”the most famous wolf in the world”—who was killed the same way back in December 2012.
“We are heartbroken to share the news that the wolf killed outside the park was 926F of the Lamar Canyon Pack,” Wolves of the Rockies wrote Wednesday on Facebook.
The canine was frequently photographed and highly recognizable for a notch in the right ear and a graying face, according to Yellowstone Wolf: Project Citizen Science.
Montana wildlife officials confirmed to the Jackson Hole Daily that the kill on Saturday was state-sanctioned, as it was outside Yellowstone’s boundaries.
“It was a legal harvest, and everything was legitimate about the way the wolf was taken,” Abby Nelson, a wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the publication. “The circumstances are obviously a little bit harder for people to stomach, because that pack had showed signs of habituation.”
As detailed by Buckrail, 926F’s lineage can be tracked back five generations to Yellowstone’s original transplanted wolves from Alberta, Canada. Gray wolves had been hunted eradication by the end of the 1920s. Many decades later, biologists reintroduced the first eight wolves to the park in January 1995, including 926F’s great, great grandparents alphas 9F and 10M.
In a press release about the incident, the Wolf Conservation Center stressed that keystone predators such as wolves are important for a balanced and resilient ecosystem.
The wolves also bring an estimated $35 million in annual tourist revenue to the region, according to University of Montana researchers. Meanwhile, Montana wolf hunting licenses cost $19 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.
“Perhaps Montana should take a closer look at the economics of wolf hunting. Seems that Yellowstone wolves are worth a lot more alive than dead,” the conservation group noted.
Fans of 926F, also known as Spitfire, mourned the loss.
“We have all seen the outpouring of grief, rage and anger after the senseless killing of Wolf 926, which unfortunately was a legal kill,” Wolves of the Rockies wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “It is now time to put that grief, rage and anger to work.”
The group suggested contacting elected officials and attending meetings at Montana, Fish Wildlife and Parks to advocate for the animals.
“Let them know who you are and why wolves are important to you,” the post states. “Remind them a balanced eco system is in the best interest of everyone.”