Officials identify mystery animal sighted near Grand Canyon

Gray wolf, generic - does not depict the particular wolf in the attached report, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of John and Karen Hollingsworth/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Arizona – Wildlife officials have confirmed that a wolf-like animal seen roaming the land north of the Grand Canyon is a female Rocky Mountain gray wolf. Genetic tests of feces found by biologists identified the nature and gender of the animal that has been seen and photographed in the area since early October, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The confirmation also affirms that the gray wolf is fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Sightings of the wolf have indicated she was previously outfitted with a radio collar that appears to be inoperable, as officials haven’t been able to detects a signal from it.

USFWS biologists have attempted to capture the wolf but have thus far been unsuccessful.

“Those efforts were unsuccessful and have been suspended due to cold weather, as our primary concern is the welfare of this animal,” the USFWS release stated. “Any future capture efforts will be for collar and transmitter replacement, and the wolf will be released on site.”

As DNA results have confirmed the female wolf is from the northern Rocky Mountain population, it also confirms she has traveled a distance of 450 miles south.

“The DNA results indicate this wolf traveled at least 450 miles from an area in the northern Rocky Mountains to northern Arizona,” Benjamin Tuggle, USFWS Southwest regional director, said. “Wolves, particularly young wolves, can be quite nomadic dispersing great distances across the landscape. Such behavior is not unusual for juveniles as they travel to find food or another mate.”

Gray wolves have not been observed in the area for more than 70 years, when the last of the animals were removed through a decades-long predator eradication campaign. This female gray wolf is not associated with the Mexican wolf population, a subspecies of gray wolves that are found in Arizona and New Mexico south of Interstate 40.

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60 Comments

  • Red Rocker November 23, 2014 at 8:38 am

    This is great news. I only hope that she survives.

    • 4wheeling on Kaibab November 25, 2014 at 4:58 am

      My wife and I saw a wolf up on Kaibab 3 years ago. We knew what it was, and no- it was no coyote. It moved like a wolf, and was a very pretty animal.
      No one believed us about what we saw; they said wolves werent in the area. Well, we know we were right now! And yes, that sighting was 3 years ago, so they have been in the area for a few years.

  • kat November 23, 2014 at 9:16 am

    your guys do a great job with the news thank you

  • valley girl November 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    sumthin tells me, she will be “meeting up” with the local wolves soon.. then we will have a “new species” article in a few years.. maybe.. i feel kinda badly for her, she sounds lonely.

  • Not buying it November 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

    450 miles?
    I’m not buying it.
    Planted by BLM or forst service.
    Give us the location sow we know what area they want to close to the ranchers.
    And I can be locked and loaded.

    • Bender November 23, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Tough guy, eh?

      • Zonkerb November 23, 2014 at 11:11 am

        Buying it. Is nothing but a Bundy worshipping tax dodging freeloader

    • Renee November 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

      It’s protected. So therefore you cannot be “locked and loaded” unless you want to be locked away!

      • mesaman November 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm

        Only if you get caught. No criminal, no crime. Just be happy they didn’t claim it to be a musk ox.

    • Dieright November 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      idiot

    • Ismot2 November 24, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Yep, to bad the first one to spot this dog didn’t take it out.

      • Chris November 24, 2014 at 9:57 am

        Too bad you think “to bad” is proper English.

  • Really November 23, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Not Buying It perhaps you have trouble reading. This animal is fully protected. A

    • Zonkerb November 23, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Idiots like buying it can’t see past the Bundy swastika

  • Teri November 23, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Thank you the update on this story. However I am apauled at the pictures used in the original story. It was a picture of a beastly snarling animal which no longer is used now that it’s been determined what the animal really is. Now it’s a nice photo of the animals true breed. I find it ridiculous for anyone to make such a big deal like that and stir people it’s really not necessary.

  • smartypants November 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Send it back! Not buying the 450 mile trek either. I am amazed at how many people are uneducated on the wildlife destruction of wolves. They kill everything from deer, elk, coyotes and most of all livestock. Not only animal killers but economy killers too.

    • Zonkerb November 23, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Smarty wow you just described the human race…. Duhhh

    • Native born New Mexican November 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      I agree with you smartypants. My daughter’s teacher told her it didn’t matter if wolves killed live stock. I told my daughter to ask her teacher if she wanted to be personally financially responsible to the rancher for the damage done to him by her beloved wolves. We all know what her answer was. The irony is the teacher lives off of the taxes paid by the rancher. She also eats the beef he produces. No rancher, no taxes. No taxes and Ms teacher does not get paid nor will there be any meat in the store for her to buy. How simple is that? Also my daughter was afraid of a big German Shepard running down the street at us. I said to her here comes your teacher’s favorite wolf. Daughter got my meaning right away. BIG BAD WOLF going to eat you up little girl!

  • Delong November 23, 2014 at 10:18 am

    The last thing Utah needs in wolves and all the conspiracy theories about agencies planting them. Look at Wyoming and Montana and the big game loss there. Time for Utah to make a stand with the Fish and Wildlife Service!

    • Adam F November 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

      This wolf is in AZ not UT.

      • Zonkerb November 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm

        I sure hope it has an ID card and can prove she’s a citizen of AZ.. if not then she will end up wearing pink underwear

        • mesaman November 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm

          It got’s a green card? No problemo, it’s more than protected, it’s subsidized.

  • The kind one November 23, 2014 at 10:56 am

    It’s not a alpha or wildlife anything. It’s someone’s pet you “goofed”. Alphas don’t jog to Mexico for “kicks” shorelinEs 8) be kind/rewind cool story but take him to a shelter so one of us can feed and love him~

  • Don Leonard November 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

    It doesn’t belong there. The fish and wildlife service needs to capture it (her) and transport back to Yellowstone so she can starve to death with the rest of her destructive family.

  • bob November 23, 2014 at 11:32 am

    So why not relocate her back up north

  • Kingofpain November 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Time for Utah to make a stand and eradicate about a million humans.. Leave the wolf alone, it’s not mans job to play God.. Maybe she’ll find some big ole Alpha coyote and he’ll make her his (…).. Then we’ll see the the results of man playing God.. Won’t that be great fun ? Man eating hybrid coyotes..
    Ed. ellipsis

    • Zonkerb November 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Yeah as long as your the first one shot

    • melissa November 23, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Agreed. The only population that we should control is our own.

      • Robb Willie November 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

        After you, Maam.

    • Liesa November 24, 2014 at 2:19 am

      KingofPain, It’s so easy to sit back and condemn all humans to extinction. Where would you start? Maybe the little black kid down the street because he’s different than you? Maybe you’ll start with all the Tea Partiers, because you don’t like them. How about the Asians, since there aren’t a whole bunch in Saint George anyway and that would just be easy for you. Maybe we could start with your mother or grandmother, but wait, that’s too close to home? How about the baby suckling from it’s mother’s breast at the mall, because that bothers you? Are you going to pull that infant away by the ankles and dash its head to the ground while the mother screams in horror? How about you start the first blow as you hold a club over your little nephew’s face as his eyes look up at you so innocently. Maybe your own children? Where does it start? Where does it end? Will you appoint yourself as the judge, the leader who makes the decision to exterminate your own friends and neighbors? I guess its easy when you think of mankind as masses and not living, breathing individuals. I feel sorry for you. Hitler would have loved you!

  • Leo November 23, 2014 at 11:54 am

    450 miles…..dont think so. More to this story than being told.

  • darnit November 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    It’s amazing how many wildlife experts we have in the area and that they know our regional wildlife expert is wrong and somehow involved in a conspiracy to fool people about this wolf (or is it?) and her travels. Reminds me of the chicken-little story, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” – now the mantra of those who live in fear and paranoia about any federal agency.

  • Idiot! November 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    I thought I was an idiot! Then I read comments on here and feel like a wise man! But I know I’m still an idiot.

  • Koolaid November 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    You are an idiot.

  • Notagain November 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Speaking of wild animals in our back yards, What ever happened to the mountain lion & offspring spotted/ reported last week in the 600 n 400 w area of St. George?

  • J Milne November 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I can only hope to shoot that thing dead while I’m out coyote hunting north of the ditch this year- if I’m lucking to get it I will hang it’s dead body from a BLM or Forest service sign –

    • Dieright November 23, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      I can’t stand people like you that have to destroy every living creature you come across. Your a sick individual, may God have mercy on you.

    • Dieright November 23, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      I hope a mountain lion tears you to shreds. scumbag!

      • mesaman November 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        My, my did he ever yank you Best Friends memorial chain.

    • Zonkerb November 23, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      Well I bet the wolf is smarter than you

  • Visiting Anthropologist November 23, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    This is such a lovely part of the country filled with intelligent, thoughtful, law-abiding and well-educated people. It makes a body proud.

    • Notagain November 23, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Take your hat off, change your socks and stay a while Anthropologist. You sounds like your fitting right in. (Hum), you don’t get on- line all the time using the Washington County jail computer system , do you?

      • Visiting Anthropologist November 23, 2014 at 9:39 pm

        Nah, but I don’t always get wi-fi in my handcart.

    • justfinewithoutyou November 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

      I was just going to say, I’m glad you are just visiting, we sure as heck don’t need the likes of you here to save us.

      • Visiting Anthropologist November 24, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Save you? LOL

  • HOX November 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Oh you people….your memories are so short. Theodore Roosevelt, a man widely known for his environmental activism, declared the wolf as “the beast of waste and destruction” and called for its eradication for good reason. I hope one of these “majestic” animals shows up in your yard so you can take a really close look.

  • sagemoon November 23, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I think it’s awesome this wolf has traveled so far. I hope she lives a good life.

  • Betty November 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I believe a “wolves only” highway is a good way to keep those animals who trek 450-miles safe. Maybe a fundraiser is in order. #wolves.only.highway

  • Frank the tank November 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    i hope they kill it! The only good wolf is a dead wolf!

    • Harry the Howitzer November 24, 2014 at 6:16 am

      No need to worry about a wild wolf. There are thousands of mountain lions in Utah, but I doubt anyone has ever seen one or been harmed by one. Same goes for the wild wolf.

  • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Yeah the doctor slapped your mother for having you

    • Koolaid November 24, 2014 at 10:10 am

      She slapped him back and said “it isn’t mine!”

  • MmmBacon November 24, 2014 at 6:24 am

    All you animal best friends, environmental, tree huggers should leave society and go back to living in caves fighting off the wolves with a stick.

    • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

      We would but you already have a stick and live in cave.. we can hold a fundraiser for you so you can make some shoes for your stupid ugly kids if that helps. or as you would say in caveman.. ugga mugga ooga ooh ooh nugga nugga booga booga

  • An actual Independent November 25, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Can’t give much credence to the crowd that tells me we need to issue thousands of deer tags (to hunters with ATVs, bows and rifles) to keep the deer population “under control”–but thinks that a lone wolf at the Grand Canyon is going to devastate the deer population. Methinks they are just a wee bit self serving.

    • Native born New Mexican November 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Hunters don’t kill cattle and sheep wolves do. BIG difference. Also this wolf won’t be “lone” for long.

      • An actual Independent November 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Wolves and deer did a pretty good job of regulating their population together for thousands of years…..until humans decided cattle and sheep were more important. That pretty much wiped out the wolves, as well as all the natural grasses and forage for the deer. Actually, it pretty well wipes out everything but the humans. No worries though; our own arrogance will destroy our habitat and thin our herd very soon.

  • Koolaid November 25, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I once hiked in that area and was so hungry I wolfed down my food. I don’t think anyone saw me.

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