Wolf shows up at Grand Canyon National Park

Once again incredible migration ability of wolves shows-

Photographs were first taken Oct. 4, 2014 near the North Rim of the canyon of what was almost certainly a wild Northern Rockies gray wolf.  Since then the animal has been seen and photographed several more times.

The three photos from a longer series that I looked at (received by email) show what is obviously a substantial sized wolf, close up, wearing a radio collar. I am not sure if I am allowed to use the photos, so here is one more of the photo series already published at Chronkite News.  It is obviously not a coyote, too massive to be a Mexican wolf, and pet wolves and wolf hybrids do not wear radio collars. It shows all the characteristics of a wolf. A newer article in azcentral.com shows two more recent photos of the wolf with the radio collar (reported taken on Oct. 27).

The person who took the Oct. 4 photos wrote in the email that was copied to me, “I stopped at the Visitor’s Center, told the kid what we’d seen…he said “there are no wolves in the area, what you saw was a big fluffy coyote.” No joke, he wouldn’t even look at the pictures!”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now looking at these and other photos and is non-committal (some suspect saying “this is not good news for us”). The Service is trying to delist wolves all over the West. They have made lots of claims that the wolf is recovered and that all the decent wolf habitat is occupied.  Michael Robinson, with the Center for Biological Diversity“ said, “I’m absolutely thrilled that a wolf managed to travel so far to reclaim the Grand Canyon as a home for wolves.” “This wolf’s journey starkly highlights the fact that wolf recovery is still in its infancy and that these important and magnificent animals continue to need Endangered Species Act protections.”

Other comments: “In the early 1900s over 30 wolves on the North Kaibab, including Grand Canyon National Park, were killed by government hunters,” said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “The possibility that a determined wolf could make it to the Canyon region is cause for celebration, and we must insist that every effort be taken to protect this brave wanderer.”  “Wolves like this one at the Grand Canyon and OR-7 demonstrate that, when protected, wolves will naturally recolonize their native habitats, restoring balance to wounded landscapes,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “Without Endangered Species Act protections, however, wolves will likely be relegated to a few National Parks in a tiny portion of their historic range.”

To get to the Grand Canyon from the Northern Rockies, the wolf must have crossed not only many rugged and remote areas, but many highways, roads, livestock grazed lands, and red rock desert.




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  1. Amre Avatar

    Apparently, the US fish and wildlife service has sent out a team to try and capture this wolf. I wonder what they’ll do with it if it is captured?

    1. Ed Loosli Avatar
      Ed Loosli

      When they capture the wolf,The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will “oops sorry” kill it, by accidentally over-dosing it with tranquilizers. The last thing Dan Ashe, Director of the USFWS wants is a gray wolf in Arizona, Colorado, Utah or California, as it would spoil his proposal to ‘de-list’ the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.

      1. Yvette Avatar

        Keep your hopes up, Ed Loosli. There will be too much negative media attention if that happens. USFWS is cornered on this one. They can’t afford a screw up.

    2. Maska Avatar

      If the animals proves to be a northern Rockies disperser, it currently has fully endangered status. It would seem that USFWS’s options are somewhat limited.

      1. Maska Avatar

        Sorry. That should read “animal,” singular.

        1. Ed Loosli Avatar
          Ed Loosli

          Maska: The USFWS options are indeed limited at this time by the Endangered Species Act, leaving the one left that I suggest will happen — the wolf will be “accidentally” killed during the capture.

          1. Ida Lupines Avatar
            Ida Lupines

            I always cringe when information comes out about wolves and endangered wildlife, because invariably some idiot will harm them, employed/hired by the gov’t or not (like the helicopter sniper hired by WA F&W to take out the breeding female ‘accidentally’) – but perhaps lots (and lots) of press might help protect them.

            1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
              Ralph Maughan

              Well I thought the same, Ida; but they in this case it was probably better to make it public before someone decided to permanently “hide” the new problem animal.

              1. Ed Loosli Avatar
                Ed Loosli

                Ralph, Yes, and to be clear, it was not the USFWS that decided to go public with the news of a gray wolf north of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, it was the Center For Biological Diversity, which is trying to keep an eye on both the wolf and the U.S. government and the Arizona game department
                – – – –

                Opps, ran out of reply room, so I will create some at the bottom here. Yes. That’s important. It was CBD that went public.

                Ralph Maughan

          2. Gary Humbard Avatar
            Gary Humbard

            I take exception to your perception of the USFWS. The agency has thousands of hard working, well qualified employees who do THEIR BEST EVERYDAY to work to protect and recover hundreds of animal and plant species and their habitats.

            Ninety-eight percent of ESA listed species HAVE NOT gone extinct under the management of the USFWS, while many have while waiting to be listed. I realize you have little respect for Mr. Ashe and Ms. Jewel, but you are off base criticizing the professional field biologist and to insinuate the agency would harm or kill this wolf.

            1. Ed Loosli Avatar
              Ed Loosli

              Gary Humbard: Put it this way; If the northern Arizona wolf is “accidentally” killed while trying to capture it or for any other reason, it is my opinion that Dan Ashe and Sally Jewell will breathe a sigh of relief. As for the hundreds of candidate species that are still waiting to be listed as Endangered by the USFWS, this is another reason to remove Dan Ashe from his key position, for in many instances he is caving into political pressure from cattle, oil/gas, and logging interests to purposely delay listings year after year after year.

            2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
              Ralph Maughan

              Gary Humbard,

              I think people overstate the matter probably because they are angry that no person who illegally killed a wolf (except for maybe Chad McKittrick) ever paid much of a penalty for it.

              By the way, this summer author Thomas McNamee’s new book was published (on-line and paperback), “The Killing of Wolf Number Ten: The True Story. Paperback.”

              It is about McKittrick’s crime.

              1. skyrim Avatar

                McKittrick paid very little for the crime. Based on his excessive boasting around town he deserved more time. (ya, I know)
                It seems that someone here stated that he has since passed on to the happy hunting ground, but I sure haven’t found anything to back that up. Maybe McNamee’s book would address the issue.

              2. Mareks Vilkins Avatar
                Mareks Vilkins

                It seems that someone here stated that he has since passed on to the happy hunting ground



                Elk275 says:
                December 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm


                I think that he also went to jail for 6 months, Chad is deceased. I only meet him several times in the Snow Creek Bar in Red Lodge. Jack Daniel was his hunting buddy, in Red Lodge, Jack Daniel is a friend to many.

            3. skyrim Avatar

              Gary, there is certainly no love in this household for the named parties, but I commend you for supporting people and a system that you likely have a better personal feel for.

    3. Louise Kane Avatar
      Louise Kane

      can anyone provide a link to a source that explains why they are going to capture and what the plans are in the aftermath of the capture?

      1. W. Hong Avatar
        W. Hong

        From some of the things I have read, they are planing to put a new working collar on this wolf.

  2. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Wow. It sure looks like one. I won’t give up hope that wolves will naturally disperse back to ME, NH and VT woods. Usually they are shot.

  3. Nancy Avatar

    If they do manage to capture it (to up date the collar) Lets hope they put a bright orange color collar back on so the “Gee, I thought it was a coyote” crowd maybe will think twice before shooting at it 🙂

  4. Kropotkin_Man Avatar

    Let’s hope it manages to avoid the traffic on the North Kaibab NF this time of year. Hunting and guiding are big money in Coconino County especially this time of year. Interesting that it’s from up north and not a lobo running in from the south.

    For the most part the USFWS biologists out of Flagstaff are good people, their bosses might be another story. The park also has good bios on staff but NPS management toes-the-line from Denver and DC. Wolves would certainly help on the North Rim bison issue—word up NPS.

    Whoa Nellie, look what the cat dragged in!!!

  5. Jon Way Avatar

    Not that this is news… but it does certainly does look like a wolf to me and not coyote… Collar looks like the same company that the Rocky Mountain states use. The animal looks very robust as the collar appears fairly tight on it. Let’s hope it stays alive…

  6. Sam Parks Avatar
    Sam Parks

    I thought I read somewhere that USFWS said that reports that they were trying to capture it were erroneous and that they had no intention of attempting to capture it. Just gather scat for DNA purposes. It’s obviously a wild wolf. Wolf/dog hybrids do not get radio collared. I wonder if this could be the same wolf that was in NE Utah for awhile earlier in the year. I believe that one was a collared gray too.

  7. WyoWolfFan Avatar

    I hope nobody shoots it. If northern gray wolves were historically found there does that mean they bred with Mexican gray wolves frequently?

    1. Sam Parks Avatar

      WyoWolfFan, I think they certainly bred with Mexican wolves pretty regularly. I might get ridiculed for saying this, but I am usually pretty skeptical of a lot of the “subspecies” of many animals that are purported to exist. The only way subspeciation can occur is through prolonged periods of genetic isolation. Gray wolves almost undoubtedly were connected with Mexican wolves and most likely bred with them fairly regularly. The wolves that early explorers and settlers found in the southwest were probably smaller and looked a little different than their northern cousins, which is where I think the “Mexican wolf” subspecies idea probably originated. The size of wolves, like most carnivores, is usually dependent on environmental circumstances such as the availability and type of prey they are consuming. And I could be wrong, but I personally doubt the idea that the Mexican wolf is truly a genetically unique subspecies of wolf. Just a slightly smaller gray wolf; smaller because of environmental circumstances. My own opinion.

      1. Ed Loosli Avatar
        Ed Loosli

        SamParks: Well said, The wolves of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are all “wolves of North America” for many thousands of years, and undoubtedly inter-bred with each other. Like the Alaskan “Brown Bear” is a very large, well fed on salmon, grizzly bear, not a separate species.

      2. Mark L Avatar
        Mark L

        the Mexican wolf IS genetically unique as a subspecies. Oddly, it occured along with the red wolf in Texas with a buffer of coyotes between them. I think Linda Rutledge had a paper on this some years ago.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          Is this the paper Mark L?

          Requires access to read it.


          1. Mark L Avatar
            Mark L

            try Chambers, SM (2012) and Hailer, F (2008) there is a Rutledge paper out there that had to do with Mexican wolf genetics but I can’t find it…on cell phone right now.

      3. WyoWolfFan Avatar

        Mexican wolves do seem pretty different from northern gray wolves, at least by appearance. As far as genetics I have no idea. However, I do know that the “Canadian wolf” subspecies the anti-wolf crowd likes to talk about is definitely a fallacy.

  8. Yvette Avatar

    The Service is trying to delist wolves all over the West. They have made lots of claims that the wolf is recovered and that all the decent wolf habitat is occupied.

    Even though the ESA does not require full recovery in all historic ranges wolves aren’t even close to inhabiting historic regions. This wolf in the Grand Canyon is evidence that supports there is still decent habitat out there where wolves belong but are not present.

    This wolf has the potential to stop the Dan Ashe USFWS’s wolf delisting goal.

    What a gift! Perhaps this is a spirit wolf carrying a powerful message to the Ashe FWS style of management.

    1. Ed Loosli Avatar
      Ed Loosli

      Yvette: So true…+1
      Let’s just hope that outsiders are with USFWS rangers when then capture and re-collar this wolf, so it isn’t “accidentally” killed.

    2. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Yes! 🙂

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        I’ll be glad to see Ashe, Jewell and some others of President Obama’s disastrous appointees packing up their offices after the 2016 elections.

        1. Ida Lupines Avatar
          Ida Lupines

          Is any group more despised than Safari Club International? Ugh.

          My sister-in-law went to Tanzania a few years ago, and someday I hope to as well.

          1. Ed Loosli Avatar
            Ed Loosli

            Ida: Don’t forget the spectacular wildlife and people of Kenya, when you visit Tanzania…Kenya banned hunting in 1977 and it shows in the quality of their wildlife. Tanzania allows trophy hunting in much of the country (except in National Parks).

            1. Ida Lupines Avatar
              Ida Lupines

              I won’t!!! It’s a trip of a lifetime. 🙂

  9. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    I’m sure the government agencies have a lots of hardworking, exceptionally qualified people, but they can’t help who they report to or what directives are given from on high. Noone who works for anybody else can. Can they still do the best job under these circumstances?

  10. Wapitime Avatar

    Time to open up hunting of wolves in northeastern Oregon.

    1. skyrim Avatar


  11. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    The good news: a northern Rockies grey wolf has been spotted near the Grand Canyon .

    The bad news: it’s in Arizona…

  12. snaildarter Avatar

    I’m afraid to say this out loud but if one made it to Grand Canyon, it probably crossed Utah. That makes one wonder where else they might be. Eastern California, Nevada? Colorado?

  13. Michael Avatar

    …genetic and morphological studies indicate that the Mexican wolf is the most basal and genetically distinct of North American gray wolves, being more closely related to Old World wolves rather than other New World subspecies. Its ancestors were likely the first gray wolves to cross the Bering Land Bridge into North America during the Pleistocene, colonizing most of the continent until pushed southwards by the newly arrived ancestors of C.l. nubilus. Chambers SM, Fain SR, Fazio B, Amaral M (2012)

  14. Jeff Avatar

    Hopefully he’ll find a mate somewhere around Flagstaff—I’d be curious to see if he continues south. A little fresh genetic material would be good for the lobo population. Not at all different than when Florida’s panthers were rejuvenated with some Texas cougar genes.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      I hope so too! 🙂

    2. Chris Harbin Avatar
      Chris Harbin

      Having lived at the Grand canyon I think going to the Flagstaff area from the North Rim would be very difficult. He would either have to cross the Grand Canyon itself or go around it to the east. Going through Grand Canyon would entail travelling in large expanses without water. The water that is present is in the Colorado River, which in and itself would difficult to cross due to the current. If he goes to the east to the Lee’s Ferry area he would still have to cross the river (although there are 3 bridges in the area and again a huge chunk of land without water. That and it would tack on another 250 miles to an already lengthy journey. Whatever happens I wish him the best. I have wanted to see wolves on the North Rim for about 25 years now.

  15. Matt Avatar

    Hopefully some wolves (from the north or the southern mexican wolves) can make it into the San Juan mountains. There is plenty of room there for them to hide and get established in south Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
    If there isn’t one or two there already?

    1. Professor Sweat Avatar
      Professor Sweat

      I believe Ted Turner has a massive ranch just to the southeast of the San Juans. I’m sure he’d love some wolves on his land. That would give them at least some additional refuge in the Southern Rockies. I know he has a few packs on one of his Montana ranches.

      1. Jeff N. Avatar
        Jeff N.

        Professor Sweat,

        I believe you are referring to Turner’s Vermejo ranch and a wolf-like animal was spotted on this property a few years ago.


        1. Professor Sweat Avatar
          Professor Sweat

          Interesting, hopefully it was a wolf, and hopefully it lived it’s life free of human persecution. Here’s to hoping Ted’s land and wilderness in that area will harbor a few packs in the near future. Knock on wood, at least they still have ESA protections for now.

          After yesterday’s reddening of the country though, a little birdie told me to hold onto my hat.

  16. skyrim Avatar

    Matt, what do you think about the possibility of grizzlies currently in the San Juans? Lots of speculation, but no hard evidence that I’ve seen or heard of.

  17. Matt Avatar

    From what i read about San Juan grizzlies… the searches came up empty after the 1979 incident, but there were some large scat samples, diggings and some other possible evidence found after that which indicates that there could be a few grizzlies still living in the south san juans or were after 1979. The Wiseman bear might have had cubs and there was a sighting report by a rancher in the 1990s of a large grizzly looking bear with cubs just over the border in northern New Mexico on a ranch that sounded like it could of been a grizzly witch cubs. If there are any grizzlies down there i think authorities and locals want to keep it hush-hush. I think it is possible there could be a few grizzlies still therethere holding out and managing to breed with one another.

    1. WyoWolfFan Avatar

      I would be surprised if there were grizzlies in the San Juans still. As much as I would love to believe that there are still grizzlies there, the fact that no reliable sightings and no carcasses have been found since 1979 makes me believe otherwise. I would love to be surprised though.

  18. skyrim Avatar

    “Bears, what Bears?”
    The last line from Rick Bass’s book
    The Lost Grizzlies.
    IMO, The key to sustaining a population of anything rare and spectacular……

  19. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Not really any breaking news here but it is the latest update on this North Rim wolf.


    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Oh *#@#$%!



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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