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'The Most Famous Wolf In The World' Has Been Killed

A radio-collared wolf, a subject of ongoing behavioral research and an animal popular with tourists, has been shot and killed in Wyoming just outside Yellowstone National Park.

The New York Times reports that wildlife photographer Jimmy Jones calls the animal, alpha female 832F of Lamar Canyon pack, "the most famous wolf in the world."

I know firsthand that watching the beautiful wolves in Yellowstone is an awesome experience. Yes, it's hard to know that equally beautiful bison and elk go down in a wolf hunt, but Yellowstone is a natural ecosystem and that is the reality of natural ecosystems.

Inside Park boundaries, Yellowstone wolves are protected. Once they roam outside those boundaries, they're now fair game for killing in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho. This issue is explosive in the American West, pitting hunters and ranchers against scientists and conservationists.

There have been 8 radio-collared wolves killed outside Yellowstone so far this year. The loss is terrible for animal-behavior scientists — and for many others of us, too.

You can keep up with more of what Barbara is thinking on Twitter:

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Barbara J. King is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. She is a Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary. With a long-standing research interest in primate behavior and human evolution, King has studied baboon foraging in Kenya and gorilla and bonobo communication at captive facilities in the United States.

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