Wolf hunting is a complicated issue — the people who are against it say we need more wolves, and people who are for it say we need fewer, but sometimes both claim it’s for the wolves’ own good. (Although one side is probably wrong.) All I know for sure is that when I look at photos of a wolf referred to as 832F, who was studied by researchers and beloved by tourists but then shot dead by hunters last Thursday, I feel really sad. She was one hell of a nice-looking and mighty-looking creature. And she has been called not only the most famous wolf in Yellowstone, but the most famous in the world.
What made 832F such a big deal? Basically, she was the supermodel of wolves; she just really loved having her picture taken by tourists and photographers. (There’s a glamour shot of her in the current issue of American Scientist — the photographer is the one who called her the world’s most famous wolf, though he kind of had skin in the game.) She was also the alpha female of her pack, so data from her tracking collar showed scientists a lot about Yellowstone’s wolf population. Her friend and pack mate 754F, who also had a collar, was shot last month. It is sad to think of all their wolf and human buddies that miss them.
On the other hand, ranchers say that the wolf population must be managed or the threat to livestock becomes too great. So there is a sheep somewhere who is, even if unconsciously, probably relieved about old 832F. Of course the sheep is going to get eaten too, but first, someone is going to make money off his life, and it won’t be another wolf.