A public uproar followed the shooting of a rare white wolf in Yellowstone National Park in the U.S., prompting witnesses to come forward and give information in exchange for $10,000. The female had been one of three rare white wolves in the said park and had at least 14 pups, who were put down after she sustained injuries from the shooting.
"As the alpha female for over nine years with the same alpha male, she had at least 20 pups, 14 of which lived to be yearlings," the park officials said.
At 12 years, the “White Lady” was shot in April 10; such rare white wolf had survived for over twice the average lifespan of other wolves in Yellowstone. She had been the alpha female of a wolf pack in the park and was widely known for her unique white coat, catching the attention of numerous photographers.
Hikers came across the rare white wolf suffering from severe wounds. Shortly after, the park staff members had euthanized the animal. According to the park, the necropsy performed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Oregon brought on results confirming that the rare white wolf suffered from a gunshot wound. It was suggested that the animal was shot between 1 a.m. of April 10 and 2 p.m. of April 11 on the park’s north side, nearby Gardiner, Mont.
"Due to the serious nature of this incident, a reward of up to $5,000.00 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act," Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk shared in an official statement.
A local wolf advocacy group known as the Wolves of the Rockies later on added to the reward, offering an additional $5,000 that subsequently rose to $5,200 due to additional donations. Group leader Marc Cooke "suspects opponents of wolves in Yellowstone were responsible," as noted by The Associated Press.
"Many hunting outfitters and ranchers have been unhappy about wolves since their reintroduction to the park more than 20 years ago," AP added. "The wolves prey on big-game animals and sometimes cattle."
Hunting wolves within and outside Yellowstone Park contradicts its mission of emphasizing animals’ protection for research and for guests to view. Wolves in the park do not easily fear humans; after wandering from the boundary, they can be simply captured by hunters. Wolf watching in Yellowstone has reportedly been bringing in $35 million per year. As thousands of visitors come to the park and take a view of the wolves, the rare white wolf was seen most of the time.
According to NPR, this is not the first time that a famous wolf from Yellowstone died from a gunshot wound. The most popular wolf in the park was shot dead sometime in 2012. "People in this world today crave something real, and our society is lacking that, and they could come to Yellowstone and see real nature unfolding in front of their eyes with this very unique personality of a wolf, and they loved her," biologist Douglas Smith said to NPR, referring to the wolf known as 832F.