Hoooowl no! Canyon wolf may have been killed

The Arizona Republic (Original) Opinion Article Posted by EJ Montini on December 30, 2014

I'm hoping it's not her.

I'm hoping she did not travel hundreds of miles through unforgiving wilderness, as if called back to the place where her ancestral packs roamed free, only to be shot dead by a bounty hunter.

I'm hoping it's not so, but authorities fear the worst.

News reports out of Utah say a hunter hoping to cash in on that state's willingness to pay $50 for each dead coyote instead shot and killed a gray wolf, perhaps the lone gray wolf spotted recently at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I'm hoping it's not her, although that would only mean it is another wolf like her, a wolf drawn back to a part of the country from which their kind was exterminated.

When I wrote about the wolf spotting at the canyon earlier this month, I heard from a few people who question my journalistic priorities and my common sense.

"With all of the problems in the world, all of the political scandals and human suffering, both globally and locally, you choose to use precious news gathering resources to write about a wolf?" one reader wrote to me. "How ridiculous. Talk about howling at the moon!"

It's true there are many problems, from global to local. There are scandals. There are people suffering.

But I wasn't howling at the moon.

I was imagining what the wolf's howling must have sounded like as it echoed back and forth among the great walls of the Grand Canyon.

I visited the park over the Christmas holiday, and stared across the magnificent abyss, wondering of the lone wolf was somewhere on the other side, looking back.

We confuse our priorities sometimes.


The story of a wolf is not more important than a story of human suffering, but it is important. It has weight. The fact that a wolf traveled hundreds of miles from the Rocky Mountains all the way back to the Grand Canyon represents something important to all of us, maybe the most important thing of all -- hope.

She is proof that nature finds a way, that while human mistakes can have devastating effects for a very long time, they don't have to last forever.

DNA tests are being administered to determine if the wolf that was shot dead is the same one that was spotted on the North Rim.

If it's not her, then it's another distant traveler, lost for no good reason. If it is her, I'd guess she's not the last to make the trip. I'd guess others will follow. They'll find their way back to the wild country north of the Grand Canyon again.

This isn't a journalist howling at the moon.

It's one listening for an echo.