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Health, Science & Environment

DNA Tests Confirm Identity of Gray Wolf Killed in Southern Utah

Federal Wildlife officials confirmed Wednesday that a gray wolf shot by a hunter in Utah was the same wolf seen in the Grand Canyon area last year.

DNA tests confirm the 3-year-old female killed in late December was the first wolf seen in northern Arizona in more than 70 years. Mike Jimenez is the Northern Rocky Mountain Region’s wolf coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says this wolf, identified as 914F, was collared in January 2014 near Cody, Wyoming.

“It kind of documents what wolves are capable of,” says Jimenez. “Wolves have a remarkable dispersal capability.”

Jimenez says while this particular wolf had not broken any distance records, it was one of the better travelers.

“There are very few things that impede that dispersal,” Jimenez says. “They get across highways, people, towns; all these different obstacles, wolves figure out a way to get around and through those.”

Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Steve Segin says the investigation into the wolf’s death is ongoing. He says even though the animal is protected under the Endangered Species Act, it's not yet clear what penalties the hunter could face. The hunter told officials he thought he was shooting at a coyote.

NOTE: This story has been edited from its original posting. The word "accidentally" was removed for clarity.

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