Echo (Courtesy NPS)
February 27, 2015
It’s been several months since Echo was shot dead by a coyote “hunter”. Her identity was confirmed by DNA analysis of her recovered scat, since she evaded all attempts of capture, making her one smart little wolf. I think Echo should have been called Miracle because it certainly was a miracle she managed to traverse the kill zone of the Northern Rockies and make it to the Grandest of all Canyons. She was the first wolf to set paw there in 70 years. Unfortunately she was not able to evade a bullet and so what could have been a new chapter in wolf recovery turned out to be a sad tale of loss. And the loss was huge. Echo defied the odds. She defied the USFWS who repeatedly said, no gray wolves in Grand Canyon National Park. But Echo made it on her own, she didn’t ask permission, she left her natal pack in Wyoming and went searching for a mate. Her presence in The Canyon was history in the making, just as her male counterpart, OR7, made history by becoming the first wolf to roam California in 90 years!
The Canyon is amazing wolf habitat, mule deer abound but there was only one problem, Echo was the only gray wolf in the park. What’s a wolf to do? So she left the park and headed north, retracing her steps on her quest to find a mate, instead she found a man with a gun.
Echo’s tragic story is not new, it’s been repeated over and over again, ad nauseam. When wolves disperse out of the Northern Rockies or Great lakes they usually end up dead. How many more times will we hear about wandering wolves shot and killed by “coyote hunters”? There is no way in hell wolves will ever be able to reclaim former habitat if every time they attempt to do so, they’re killed. We could point to Oregon and Washington as success stories, Oregon now has 77 wolves. Yes, wolves are thriving there, with OR7 as the poster wolf for that success but OR7’s story could have gone a completely different way. He made the right choice and dispersed to western Oregon and south to California, where there’s tolerance for wolves. Unfortunately a few of his siblings OR5 and OR9 took different paths and went east to the killing fields of Idaho, where they met grisly deaths.
Oregon and Washington wolves have been successful because they’re not hunted YET. But Oregon is already in the planning stages of delisting wolves in the eastern part of the state, since Oregon’s wolf
“management” plan is so weak.
Washington, although they have a better long-term “management” plan of 15 successful breeding pairs over three years, has not been particularly kind to wolves since they returned to the state. The Lookout Pack, the first wolves confirmed in Washington state in 70 years were decimated by the White family. I’m sure everyone remembers the disgusting account of Erin White trying to Fedex a bloody wolf pelt .
“A FedEx agent declined to take the package after seeing what appeared to be blood leaking from it.
When a local police officer and the shipping-store owner discovered an animal pelt inside, they alerted state fish and wildlife agents. Genetic tests of the pelt later confirmed it was a gray wolf and an apparent member of the Washington state wolf pack.”…SeattleTimes
And we can’t forget the Wedge Pack and Huckleberry Pack debacles. Washington’s Teanaway Pack alpha female was poached in 2014, with a significant reward offered. Other wolves have been poached there as well, so all is not peachy for wolves in the Evergreen State, even though they remain protected by state law in eastern Washington and retain federal and state protection in western Washington. Additionally the Colville and Spokane Tribes in eastern Washington hold wolf hunts on their reservations. The 2014/2015 Spokane tribe wolf hunt has a 6 wolf quota.
Aside from Washington and Oregon where are the dispersing wolves’ success stories? Can anyone name a single successful breeding pair of wolves outside of the Northern Rockies, Great Lakes or Mexican gray wolf territory, in Arizona and New Mexico? In Missouri, 3 wolves have been killed in the last 13 years using the “coyote excuse”. In Kentucky, where wolves had been absent for 150 years, a wolf was shot dead because of “mistaken coyote identity”. The same thing in Kansas. And now Echo in Utah.
Obviously the “coyote excuse” is very convenient, even though coyotes and wolves look very different. It’s the equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” If you cop to killing a protected wolf, charges may be brought against you, probably just a slap on the wrist but there’s a possibility of fines or losing a hunting license. Using the “coyote excuse” is a get out of jail free card. This is why wolves are struggling to reclaim former habitat, because they walk around with targets on their backs, with little protection. The USFWS wants to put a final nail in their coffin with a national delisting. US Fish and Wildlife Services can’t protect wolves now when they’re listed as endangered, so how on earth can wolf recovery go forward if all federal protection is stripped from them? The message is clear and not subtle, wolf recovery must be stopped dead in its tracks.
When Echo died it wasn’t just one wolf dying, which is tragic in itself but her demise closed the door on what could have been a new chapter for wolves in the Southwest. The Grand Canyon is perfect wolf habitat, plenty of prey, mule deer abound, room to roam. Sadly the one thing missing were other wolves and that sealed Echo’s fate. She left the Canyon or was lured back into Utah, where she met her killer.
The Chairman of Arizona Game and Fish opined that Echo may have been deposited in the Grand Canyon by “radicalized environmental monkey wrenching”. In other words, stealth greenies snatched Echo from the Northern Rockies and plopped her in the North Rim of the Canyon, just to “monkey wrench” the USFWS plan to delist wolves nationally. Ummmmkay. Does this have anything to do with Area 51?
Here’s the article:
Wolf appears during controversy: Coincidence?
There has been a great deal of interest in the wolf observed on the Kaibab Plateau in Northern Arizona. Many herald this as a wonderful event, and for the first time in 70 years, a wild wolf was in northern Arizona.
There are also some who view this as an example of what I have heard referred to as radicalized environmental monkey wrenching. The reality is that placing an animal that has full protection of the Endangered Species Act in a novel area requires agencies to manage a species that arrived to the area with the help of humans and not by natural dispersal.
Although the truth may never be known, I have had numerous folks call me to question how a wild wolf traveled more than 450 miles from the Northern Rockies to Arizona without having been observed somewhere along the way? Why now when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of determining whether or not to delist the gray wolf? Why now when key decisions are being made on the management of the Mexican wolf?
Recently, I got a long look at this animal, and while it looked like a wild wolf, it behaved otherwise.
To be clear, wild animals are known to make wondrous, long-distance movements, and while the arrival of a wolf on the Kaibab Plateau is not impossible, how interesting is it that this happens now when management of wolves in North America is at a critical juncture…..Robert Mansell azcentraldotcom
I can play the speculation, conspiracy game too. What if Echo was lured into Utah? What if the “coyote hunter” knew she was a wolf and shot her anyway? She was a threat after all, a wolf successfully dispersing into new territory? That can’t be allowed now can it? And that must have been a pretty dumb “monkey wrencher” to forget to bring along a male wolf to keep her company.
Echo traveled hundreds of miles, defying the odds, to become the first wolf to set paw in the Grand Canyon since the 1940’s. This remarkable little wolf, just three years old, could have opened a new chapter for wolves reclaiming lost habitat. She defied the USFWS, who said NO WOLVES IN THE GRAND CANYON! Excuse me if I’m suspicious of Echo’s death. NOTHING connected to wolves is ever straightforward.
RIP Sweet Echo, you were a pioneer for your species, an ambassador, seeking to reclaim the land of your ancestors! May your species continue to follow in your tracks!
“It is nothing short of a tragedy that this wolf’s journey across the west was cut short because she was shot and killed by a coyote hunter (…) This brave and ambitious female gray wolf that made it all the way from Wyoming to the Grand Canyon had already become a symbol of what gray wolf recovery should look like – animals naturally dispersing to find suitable habitat.”….Inquisitrdotcom
DNA Confirms Famed Wolf ‘Echo’ Killed By Coyote Hunter In Southern Utah
February 12, 2015
Coming next: Part Two
Killing Echo/Killing Wolves: The “Mistaken Identity” Excuse
Top Photo: Courtesy Echo – NPS
Bottom Photo: Echo – Arizona Game and Fish
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Biodiversity, wolf recovery
Tags: Echo, epic journey, wolf recovery, biodiversity, North Rim Grand Canyon, wolf in the Canyon, senseless death, “coyote excuse”