In what is being hailed as a milestone in the recovery of one of North America's most iconic species, a gray wolf has been confirmed to be living near the Grand Canyon in Arizona for the first time in about 70 years.
The lone female wolf had been photographed several times near the canyon's north rim in recent months, raising hopes that the predator, forced from the region early last century, had finally returned. In late November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collected samples of the animal's droppings containing DNA, which genetic tests confirmed belonged to the endangered gray wolf.
"This is an exciting, historic development that affirms both the peer-reviewed science that identifies this area as excellent habitat for wolves and the need to maintain Endangered Species protections for wolves," Emily Renn of the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project told the Grand Canyon News.
The wolf is believed to have traveled some 450 miles south from a population found in the Northern Rocky Mountains, possibly in search of a mate.