Several sites I read reported this week on the sad news that a wolf shot in Utah in late December/early January (mistaken by a hunter for a coyote) was the same wolf as the one seen in the Grand Canyon in November, the first gray wolf seen in the canyon since they were extirpated from the area 70 years ago. The excitement of that sighting lead to some kind of “name the wolf” thing after which she was called Echo, instead of 914F. (Here’s one source.)
What I found interesting – and annoying, because it is really relevant to the basic story – was that several of the short summaries I read referred to the shooter as just “a hunter,” when what he is is a Utah state-authorized coyote bounty hunter (via). . . which explains why someone was out there shooting at (what he thought to be) a coyote in the first place. I assume wolves have been uncommon enough in Utah that it really didn’t cross his mind that the animal he was aiming at might be something other than a coyote, despite the fact she had a radio collar on, and since wolves do have federal protection in Utah, he’s under some investigation.
I remember from reading about the wolves in Yellowstone that wolves do not like coyotes, so if wolves return to an area, the coyote population in that area will be reduced (the coyotes will move away from the wolves, in part) . . . which, if you are someone who doesn’t want coyotes around, seems like it would be incentive to want more wolves around. (Coyotes being fairly comfortable around human habitation, however, suggests to me that “more wolves” might not mean “fewer coyotes around human habitation,” so wolves might only reduce coyote problems in more rural environments where wolves are happier.)
Although, of course, if you are making money from coyotes being around, because you get paid to kill them, perhaps you would end up being resentful of the wolves. I have no idea if the bounty hunter in this specific situation has any idea about the interactions between wolves and coyotes; I am just thinking about how things might play out in areas where coyotes are considered a problem, and wolves have not yet returned. The conflict between Utah paying people to shoot at some wild canids (coyotes) while others are under federal protection (gray wolves) seems like another significant problem – to say nothing of the fact that the federal government is considering taking the wolves off the Endangered Species List. Well, why the hell not? What could go wrong?