For Immediate Release, February 11, 2015
Contact: Emily Renn, (928) 202-1325, Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project
Confirmed - Echo, the First Wolf in Over 70 years at Grand Canyon, Is Dead
DNA Analysis Shows Echo Was Wolf Shot in Utah
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed that Echo, the female northern Rockies gray wolf seen roaming near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon last year, was the wolf shot near Beaver, Utah in December. This pioneer traveled hundreds of miles to northern Arizona, an area that scientists have said is one of the last best places in the Southwest for wolves. Echo was protected under the Endangered Species Act, but was killed by a hunter who claimed he thought she was a coyote. Wolves like Echo who travel into Utah remain in danger due to Utah laws that allow indiscriminate killing of coyotes, even offering a bounty, and to plans by the Obama administration and members of Congress to strip gray wolves of protections nation-wide.
Emily Renn, executive director for Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, a Flagstaff-based non-profit that has worked since 2005 to build support for wolf recovery in the Grand Canyon region, said this news shows why federal and state governments need to do more to protect wolves like Echo.
“Echo’s historic journey brought to life the scientific research showing the Grand Canyon region’s great suitability as habitat for wolves and the need to maintain Endangered Species Act protections for wolves and wildlife corridors from Mexico to Canada. Her death highlights the need for greater protections.”
Renn said that state laws that allow unlimited killing of coyotes, including coyote killing contests, and even offer bounties, make it much too easy for shooters to mistakenly or purposely take an endangered wolf’s life and reap no consequences. A Department of Justice policy, called McKittrick, often allows killers of endangered animals to avoid prosecution if they claim they thought the animal was something else.
Scientists have said that the Grand Canyon region in northern Arizona and southern Utah is one of the last best places for wolves because of its abundant prey, public lands, including national forests and Grand Canyon National Park, and low road densities. Utah is a key linkage between wolves in the northern Rockies states and the Southwest, but a recent rule revision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service prohibits Mexican gray wolves from the south inhabiting the area north of I-40. Renn said this rule, Utah politics, and attempts by the Obama administration to strip gray wolves of ESA protections administratively, and by Congress to do it through bills and riders, pose significant obstacles to wolf recovery, which her group is working to overcome. “If wolves lose federal protections they will be left to the mercy of states that have clearly shown themselves to be unfriendly towards predators.”