A rare white female wolf which was fatally shot in Yellowstone National Park was done so illegally, officials have confirmed.
The rifle-toting gunman not only proceeded to shoot the magnificent creature, but they abandoned her and left her suffering in the woods with a horrific wound.
Hikers found the alpha female last month on the north side of the national park in Wyoming, the New York Times reports.
They called for help, but her wound was too severe to be treated and unfortunately she had to be euthanized.
Jaimie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, told the New York Times:
The death of this wolf is another tragic loss in the trend of illegally poaching iconic species. Yellowstone National Park’s wolves are unequivocally prized. These wolves are valued globally, and local communities reliant on tourism benefit significantly from their presence. Returning wolves to their natural habitat has a beneficial effect on the entire ecosystem.
A $10,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the conviction of the killer or killers responsible.
The 12-year-old alpha female was one of three white wolves in the park and had at least 20 pups over the years.
There are now almost 100 wolves in the park, but many ranchers and hunters were angry about the re-introduction of the animals into the park 20 years ago.
Hopefully they catch those who are responsible and feel the full weight of the law.