From mourning over her loss to overcoming adversity and keeping the pack together, Spitfire is now gone.
Hearts are breaking right now for the Yellowstone National Park community and wolf watchers all over the globe. Wolf 926F, or most commonly known as Spitfire, was recently killed by a trophy hunter.
Fate has not been different for the daughter of 06, the alpha female famous around the world and the inspiration behind the book “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West.” Following her death back in 2012, Spitfire had shown significant changes to keep up with the loss of her mother, from her black face turning grey to being subordinate to her two offsprings.
Contrary to popular belief, that all wolves are ravenous predators, Spitfire is proof that there are wolves who have little fear of humans. She is a familiar face to Yellowstone and is famous to wolf watchers and tourists. Her death brought the wolf advocates to question how lenient the regulations are for wolf hunters and to call for a hunting-free- zone to protect wild animals while they roam beyond the park's border.
Spitfire was killed by a trophy hunter less than five miles from the northeast entrance of Yellowstone, the death was ruled out as legal harvest by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone Park back in 1995, and since then controversies arose in respect to their conservation.
As stated in Montana's law, there’s a limit hunt to two wolves in areas adjacent to the park. Hunters already overuse this regulation. Claims about the rising population of wolves and the need to protect the elk and livestock are the commonly used excuse for the sports hunting.
Like humans, wolves are social animals, as shown with their strong family ties. The death of a member may affect the size of the pack, let alone its existence. Wolf 926F death might strain the Lamar Valley Pack. All ten packs of wolves in Yellowstone has an average on ten members. With Spitfire gone, her pack is now down to seven members and that small number brings threat to their pack’s survival.
Spitfire's children are now facing a big responsibility for keeping their pack together. Little T and Dot are now the new alphas of the Lamar Valley Pack. They are now in charge of the preservation of the famous wolf family lineage and 06’s legacy.
Just like her mother 06, Spitfire's death reflects our current wolf management practices and how much attention we're giving these wild animals. So we can only hope that her death will serve as an eye opener to our lawmakers.
Let us not forget how Spitfire inspired others and how she defined bravery and resilience of wolves. Let her death be a reminder of our responsibility in taking care of wild animals.
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