Wolf # 253, R.I.P.

Druid Peak Pack's Alpha Wolf

The following is a post from NRDC Staff Scientist, Dr. Sylvia Fallon:

On Friday, March 28th, the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal endangered species protection from gray wolves in the rocky mountain region. Within a few short hours reports started coming in of wolves being shot in Wyoming where they can now be killed anytime and for any reason in most of the state. Among those first to be killed was a wolf known to many as #253.

Wolf #253 was a member of the Druid pack and first became famous for surviving a brutal fight with a competing pack that left him with the use of only three of his legs. His dark, black coat, signature limp and eager perseverance won him fans among the public who traveled to Yellowstone for a glimpse of the survivor.

His status as famous turned to infamous in 2002 when wolf #253 ventured out of the park, looking to start his own pack and was found hundreds of miles away just north of Salt Lake City in a coyote trap. His journey became the first confirmed wolf sighting in Utah in over 70 years. He was returned to Yellowstone with a new limp from the ordeal, but quickly ran again with his old pack.

Wolf #253 was a symbol of wolf recovery and its short comings in the rocky mountain region. Full of spirit and promise, but not quite fully recovered, the population will continue to limp along. We believe that removing the rocky mountain wolves from the Endangered Species Act is premature and have filed a notice of our intent to challenge the government’s decision in federal court at the end of this month. In the meantime, we hope that the demise of wolf #253 is not a harbinger for the demise of all the hard work that has gotten the wolves to where they are today. Let’s not allow one of our greatest success stories to turn into one of our most regrettable failures.

UPDATE: The New York Times editorializes about the wolf's delisting here.