Even true stories about wolves sound like fables.
Last October, an animal appearing to be a gray wolf showed up on the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona, just north of the Grand Canyon National Park. At first, no one was sure what, exactly, the “wolflike animal” was, but if, as suspected, it was a gray wolf that had migrated from the northern Rockies, it would have been the first time since the 1940s one had set foot in the Grand Canyon. Although there were once an estimated 2 million gray wolves across the continent, humans hunted and poisoned them to the point of oblivion. But thanks to federal protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), since the 1970s, gray wolf populations have slightly rebounded. After reintroducing 60 Canadian wolves in Yellowstone in 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) estimate their population is now up to about 1,500 animals across Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
People reported sightings of the Grand Canyon creature through November and December and heard her howls across the forest. Scientists analyzed her poop and confirmed it: she was a gray wolf from the northern Rockies, 450 miles north, first collared near Cody, WY in January 2014. The itinerant, lonesome wolf seized the imagination of the nation and then the world. In a contest for school children, she was given the nickname “Echo.”
In late December, a hunter shot and killed a wolf near Beaver, Utah, thinking it was a coyote. (The state of Utah permits bounty hunting for coyotes, $50 a head.) Federal agencies refused to say whether the dead wolf was the same one from the Grand Canyon.
That is, until last week. Genetic testing by the FWS confirms Echo was shot dead.