News of the WeekConservation Biology

Research Wolves of Yellowstone Killed in Hunt

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Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 506-507
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_506

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On 3 October, a few weeks after Montana opened its first legal wolf-hunting season in decades, a hunter killed a female wolf in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, less than a mile from the border of Yellowstone National Park. She wasn't the first Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf to be legally hunted since wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list last May. But she was the alpha female of Yellowstone Park's Cottonwood Pack and wore a large radio collar identifying her as wolf 527F. Her behavior, travels, life history, and genealogy had been studied in detail by scientists for 5 of her 7 years. Her death, and that of five other pack members also shot outside Yellowstone, including another radio-collared female, have irrevocably changed what had been a unique long-term study, the researchers say.