A rare gray wolf killed in Utah last December was in fact Echo, DNA testing has confirmed.
The female was the first of her species to be seen in the area since 1945. Echo had wandered more than 500 miles in her lifetime to find a mate and had been seen roaming near the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.
According to the hunter who shot Echo, he mistook the wolf for a coyote. According to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, wolves are not allowed to be killed without a special permit, but coyotes can be shot on sight. Since 1981, some 11 cases have been reported in which hunters shot a wolf mistaking it for a coyote.
"It's very sad either way," Michael Robinson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, said.
The unnamed hunter shot Echo near Beaver, Utah.
An investigation into Echo’s death remains ongoing and could take several weeks or months to complete. It’s unclear whether or not the hunter will face penalties for killing the wolf.