Sightings are being investigated by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, who hope to test a faeces sample to determine that the animal is in fact a grey wolf, and not a wolf-dog hybrid. If this is confirmed, then the animal will have a brightly coloured radio collar attached, before being re-released into the wild.
Wolf could be roughly 700 miles from home
It is thought that the wolf may be from the northern Rocky Mountains, which would mean it has travelled hundreds of miles to reach northern Arizona. Those visiting the Grand Canyon on tours in the USA, may get the opportunity to spot the lone wolf in this unusual habitat, which is a very rare occurrence.
Exterminated from the state in the 1940s, the grey wolf is protected by the Endangered Species Act and lives in just a few remaining areas of America. Following the bounty hunting in the early 20th century, which almost saw grey wolves become extinct, it was only until more recently that grey wolves were only found in Minnesota and Michigan’s Isle Royal.
There are now more than 5,000 grey wolves in the continental United States, with most of these living in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Rocky Mountains, where it is thought the wolf may have come from.
The sighting follows the release of a small population of Mexican wolves, who were reintroduced to New Mexico and Arizona, but the animal spotted in the Grand Canyon National Park has a bulkier body and more compact ears in comparison to the typical Mexican wolf.
A spokesman for the Fish & Wildlife Service in Arizona stated that although the wolf appears to be alone, it doesn’t mean that it will stay that way, as wolves have a reputation for finding other wolves.
Image Credit: Eric Kilby (Flickr.com)
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