A wild wolf beloved by wolf watchers and biologists who visit Yellowstone National Park has been shot dead by a hunter.
The 7-year-old female wolf, known to scientists as Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack member 926F, had wandered just outside Yellowstone last weekend and was legally killed by a trophy hunter.
Nicknamed “Spitfire” by wolf enthusiasts, the slain she-wolf was the daughter of famous alpha female 832F, who inspired the book American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West.
832F ― best known as “06” (a reference to the year she was born) ― was a tourist favorite at Yellowstone and the leader of the Lamar Canyon pack until she was killed by a hunter in 2012.
“The 06 Legacy,” a Facebook group for wolf lovers, honored 926F’s life in a Facebook post Wednesday.
“926F showed incredible strength, courage and resilience in everything she did,” the Facebook post says. “She had a special bond with her daughter Little T and they stayed together all these years.”
The post continued: “We had so much to celebrate when we saw five strong and healthy pups this fall. And now it took just one bullet and 926F is gone. Just like her mother 06 and her uncle 754M before her. With current wolf management practices, the tragedy just doesn’t end. ... Rest In Peace our beautiful Queen.”
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed Spitfire was legally killed by a trophy hunter less than five miles from the northeast entrance of Yellowstone.
The beloved wolf’s death has reignited calls for a buffer around Yellowstone, a hunting-free zone, to protect animals who wander beyond the park’s invisible boundary.
“Perhaps Montana should take a closer look at the economics of wolf hunting,” the New York-based Wolf Conservation Center wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “Seems that Yellowstone wolves are worth a lot more alive than dead.”