CALGARY — The death of a lone male wolf that had journeyed nearly 500 kilometres from Alberta to Montana in just five days is being heralded as a positive sign for wilderness connectivity despite the animal’s unfortunate demise.
The collared two-year-old wolf, known to researchers as Wolf 2001 of Banff’s Bow Valley pack, had journeyed 480 kilometres before being legally killed by a hunter in northwestern Montana.
Jodi Hilty, chief scientist with not-for-profit conservation organization Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), says that while the death of the wolf may grab people’s attention, the journey is, in many ways, a positive sign for connectivity for wildlife.
She says the adolescent was likely kicked out of the pack and had gone looking for a new home. It’s only because of the network of wilderness areas that it was able to reach the United States.
“This wolf’s movements show that the Yellowstone to Yukon region is still connected,” explained Hilty. “It also points to the challenge that most park wolves and even grizzly bear face if they leave parks, which is human caused deaths.”
Those deaths include highway collisions. Y2Y has long advocated for more highway wildlife overpasses such as the ones in the mountain national parks.
Alberta has a strong population of wolves both inside and outside of parks and other protected areas.
The wolf was legally shot by a hunter in Montana where wolf hunting is permitted through a quota system. Under that system, the season is closed for the year once a designated number of animals have been taken by hunters.
Alberta does not have a quota for wolves. Hunting seasons are open from roughly the beginning of September until May or June depending on the specific wildlife management unit.
Parks Canada says they are aware of the wolf’s movements and fate but have not provided comment on the wolf that had been collared by their staff.
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