6 min read

Beloved White Wolf Was Just Shot And Killed

There are so few like her left — and she was just days away from giving birth.

Hikers in Yellowstone National Park spotted a bundle of luminous white fur lying on the ground last month. It was a famous wolf, known as The White Lady, and she had been shot.

She was alive, and no one knew how long she'd been suffering. But when officials came to help her, she was beyond hope. The humane thing to do was to put the 12-year-old wolf, a leader of the Canyon pack, out of her suffering. 

The White Lady leaves behind the 14 surviving children she mothered during her lifetime, and her mate, whom she was with for nine years.
 

As if the loss of The White Lady weren't sad enough, she was days away from giving birth to five pups, according to Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, who was in the park when the investigation into the wolf's death was being conducted.

"The killing of this beloved alpha female will reverberate across the ecosystem," Cotton told The Dodo. "Her pups died with her just days before they would have been born, undermining the future of her pack; her pack's structure is upended just like when the matriarch in a human family dies, people lose the chance to see a rare white wolf in one of America's most gorgeous landscapes, and we learn that even our most protected wild places aren't necessarily safe for rare wildlife."

This week, it was revealed that The White Lady was indeed shot illegally. It has recently become legal to shoot wolves on sight in Wyoming, since a court stripped the animal of endangered species protections in the state. But The White Lady was shot two weeks before the ruling and 70 miles outside of the area where it would now be legal to shoot her — so her death is being treated as a crime and a $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the conviction of her killer. 

The delisting of wolves in Wyoming is a terrible setback for the recovery of the species, according to many wildlife groups. "Thousands of wolves have been killed in Idaho and Montana since the delisting [in those states] in 2011," Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, told The Dodo. "Those states and others have proven how state wildlife management agencies are incapable of just letting wolves be wolves. Their anti-science views see wolves competing for the same deer and elk that hunters are. This is just one more example of why wolves should be protected under the Endangered Species Act."

 

The wolf population is vulnerable all across the country because the animals are often resented by hunters for killing game that they want to kill themselves, and ranchers blame wolves for livestock predation, with sometimes deadly consequences.

"This tragedy is another sad reminder of the unfounded and illogical hatred of wolves," Cotton said. "It shows why ensuring that our public lands network remains a refuge for rare animals like wolves, grizzly bears, lynx and wolverine is essential for ensuring their recovery. We call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find and hold accountable the person responsible for this crime."

"It would appear there is no safe place for wolves," Fahy added.

RIP, The White Lady.

To help protect wolves,  you can donate to Predator Defense and WildEarth Guardians. You can also contact your representatives to say you support wolf protections under the Endangered Species Act.