Wolf collared in Banff killed in U.S. after sudden 500-kilometre migration to Montana
CALGARY -- A lone male wolf from Banff's Bow Valley pack journeyed nearly 500 kilometres from Alberta to Montana in just five days, before being legally killed in northwestern Montana on Monday.
The collared two-year-old wolf, known to researchers as Wolf 2001, had journeyed 480 kilometres before being legally killed by a hunter on Monday.
Jodi Hilty, chief scientist with not-for-profit conservation organization Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), says that while the death of the wolf may grab people's attention, the journey is, in many ways, a positive sign for connectivity for wildlife.
She says the adolescent was likely kicked out of the pack and had gone looking for a new home. It's only because of the network of wilderness areas that it was able to reach the United States.
"This wolf's movements show that the Yellowstone to Yukon region is still connected," explained Hilty. "It also points to the challenge that most park wolves and even grizzly bear face if they leave parks, which is human caused deaths."
Those deaths include highway collisions. Y2Y has long advocated for more highway wildlife overpasses such as the ones in the mountain national parks.
Alberta has a strong population of wolves both inside and outside of parks and other protected areas.
The wolf was legally shot by a hunter, who was also the landowner, in Montana where wolf hunting is permitted through a quota system. Under that system, the season is closed for the year once a designated number of animals have been taken by hunters.
Dillion Tavish, spokesperson with Montana Fish and Wildlife, says the wolf was in the Yahk area, about 6.5 km from the border, when it was shot by a hunter as part of their regular hunting season. Officials say they ask hunters not to shoot collared animals but say it is not illegal to do so.
Alberta does not have a quota for wolves. Hunting seasons are open from roughly the beginning of September until May or June depending on the specific wildlife management unit.
Parks Canada says they are aware of the wolf’s movements and fate but have not provided comment on the wolf that had been collared by their staff.