Wolves that call Yellowstone National Park home are protected from trophy hunters, but any that wander just a few miles past the invisible border are targeted.
Spitfire, the 7-year-old black female wolf, was killed by a trophy hunter just miles outside the park. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed that Spitfire was killed legally less than five miles from Yellowstone’s northeast entrance.
Wolf enthusiast called Spitfire the “Queen of the Lamar Valley”. Her mother was also well known as “the most famous wolf in the world”. She was the alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, the first group of wolves to be reintroduced to the park from Canada.
The beautiful Spitfire, known simply as 926F, took over as alpha female of the pack after her mother was killed by a trophy hunter in 2012. Sadly, history repeated itself when a trophy hunter killed Spitfire in Montana. She leaves behind a daughter, that she was extremely close with. We can only hope that she will take on the alpha role and keep the pack together.
“926F showed incredible strength, courage and resilience in everything she did. She had a special bond with her daughter Little T and they stayed together all these years,” states Karol Miller, founder of The 06 Legacy posted on Facebook in a tribute to the beloved wolf.
She went on to say, “We had so much to celebrate when we saw five strong and healthy pups this fall. And now it took just one bullet and 926F is gone. Just like her mother 06 and her uncle 754M before her. With current wolf management practices, the tragedy just doesn’t end. We leave you tonight with hearts full of sadness. Rest In Peace our beautiful Queen.”
Her tragic death has renewed the push to expand the protected border around the national park to save the wolves living within. However, Montana lawmakers have passed legislation that prohibits a buffer. Many more wolves will face the same sad fate, unless something changes.
The Humane Society of The United States reports, “State-sanctioned wolf trophy hunts are perfectly legal in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Montana allows up to four wolves to be trophy hunted or trapped in two areas bordering the park that are designated for hunting. There are no quotas for other designated hunting areas around the park or the rest of the state, and 255 wolves were killed during the 2017-2018 season in Montana alone.”
Here is how you can help. “Please make brief, polite phone calls to your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative and ask them to ensure that the final FY19 spending package does not contain harmful provisions that undermine the Endangered Species Act, such as delisting gray wolves.”
Karol and The 06 Legacy crew state it perfectly, “Let’s all turn the darkness from the senseless loss of 926F into energy, action and relentless determination to educate people about the true nature and importance of wolves. The time is now for wolves to regain their place in the ecosystem and their rightful spot in the heritage of our country. Paws forward!!!”
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.