Is this a gray wolf?

graywolf
(Image: Center for Biological Diversity)

If this is a gray wolf, it would be the first one seen in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon since the 1940s. And it would have to have wandered there from the northern Rockies, likely Wyoming.

Researchers think and certainly hope the animal is a gray wolf. Experts in the area say it has the characteristics of a gray wolf and none of those usually seen in wolf hybrids. In addition, they say it appears to be wearing a radio collar similar to those used to track the northern wolves, although the collar is no longer working. Several people have photographed the wolf, but so far efforts to track it have been unsuccessful. If it can be tracked and its droppings collected, DNA testing could determine whether it is in fact a gray wolf.

In any case, there’s a lot of excitement and many crossed fingers among workers for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center for Biological Diversity, and wolf supporters everywhere. It could mean wolves are spreading across and back into their old range, the large area of the western US they inhabited before they were nearly exterminated in the lower 48.

More information, maps, and photos at the National Geographic and the Washington Post.

gray-wolf-grand-canyon-02_85473_990x742
(Image: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

More on wolves from Pied Typeespecially this video which explains why everyone should celebrate the (possible) return of gray wolves to their southern habitat.

17 comments

      1. I’m certainly no expert. The only coyotes I’ve seen in the wild always look like starving dogs, although I’ll admit the coloring and markings are similar. The experts seem pretty sure it’s a wolf — if not a gray wolf from up north then the more rare Mexican gray wolf. I’m hoping for the former.

  1. It would be great, in my view, for wolves to re-establish themselves throughout the Rockies. I supported wolves as an option for elk reduction in RMNP, but the winning option was for shooting them “culling” stealthily so the visitors don’t see the carnage, etc. Just another way for rich hunters to kill a trophy set of antlers. (insert disgusted sigh) My worries are for the wolves… as in the WY code that wolves in predator zones can be shot on sight. Sure that CO, NM, AZ are no better. Yes they are predators, but people are the intruders, not the carnivores forced to live in ever-shrinking habitats. RMNP and the other remaining designated parks and wilderness lands need diverse natural predation vs man. (another sigh) Have yet to see a wolf in the wild; love the rescues, but they aren’t wild and free. My fingers are crossed for them!

    1. I, too, support wolves in RMNP. I’d very much like to see them there (or have them there even if I don’t actually see them). Letting hunters cull the elk herds when tourists aren’t around is just another way for hunters to get their jollies (I don’t care if they donate the meat or not). Wolves could and should be doing the culling. That’s nature’s way.

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