If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Yellowstone National Park, you likely know who Spitfire is. Scientists called the 7-year-old female “Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack member 926F.”
Although, the beautiful wolf was better known as just Spitfire.
In late 2018, a trophy hunter who was lurking near the northeast entrance of the park spotted Spitfire just outside the park and took the opportunity to shoot and kill her.
The worst part of all? It was 100% legal since Spitfire was killed outside the park’s invisible borders.
Now, wildlife advocates are demanding a no-kill buffer outside of Yellowstone Park, but hunting groups are pushing back.
Spitfire was the daughter of former pack leader 832F, who the New York Times called “the most famous wolf in the world.”
832F was known to frequent popular tourist roads where she was often spotted.
Not to mention, she was the inspiration behind the book American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West.
Sadly, in 2012, 832F, better known as “06” – the year she was born – was killed by a hunter.
To think her daughter would meet the same fate is unimaginable.
Spitfire’s pack, known as the Lamar Canyon pack, is now just six wolves strong.
The majority of which are still pups – with 4 of them born in 2018. Not to mention, this is the first surviving litter in the last 3 years.
It is unclear if the pups’ mom is Spitfire, or if they belong to Spitfire’s daughter, Little T, the pack’s current alpha female.
According to experts, the fate of the vulnerable pack is now in question.
In the 1920s, wolves became extinct to the park, and for years there were no wolves in the area.
That all changed in the 1990s, when wolves were brought in from Alberta, Canada and reintroduced to the park.
Spitfire’s bloodlines traced back to wolf #9, one of the first wolves to repopulate the park.
Over the last 20 to 30 years, Yellowstone’s wolf population has grown to around 100 wolves, which are dispersed amongst 10 distinct packs.
While it’s illegal to hunt animals inside of Yellowstone National Park, Spitfire had wandered just outside the park’s unmarked borders where hunting is legal.
The savage, yet legal, killing of Spitfire has reignited a fierce debate about extending the no-kill buffer outside of Yellowstone’s invisible borders.
It is very common for animals living inside of the park to wander outside of the borders, where as of now, they have absolutely no protection.
Animal activists are up in arms about this, fighting to extend protection to the animals outside of the park. Surprisingly, there’s been a lot of pushback.
“We’re amazed at the hostility toward the buffer idea coming from authorities of states surrounding the parks,” the Campaign for Yellowstone’s Wolves shared on their Facebook page.
“They so despise the idea and are so defensive that you’d think the only place to hunt wolves was around Yellowstone Park.”
In reality, you can legally hunt wolves throughout most of the Northern Rocky Mountain region – so there is really no reason why hunters should be allowed to hunt wolves in such close proximity to the park.
Montana has a law in place that forbids a buffer zone from being implemented around the park.
Although, according to a report by the New York Times, “there is a hunting limit of two wolves in each of two districts adjacent to the northern boundary of the park.”
To make matters even more unfair, the wolves that live in the park are more comfortable around humans than most.
This creates a too-trusting mentality that makes it easier for hunters to go after them.
“Wolf hunters talk about seeing a pack of park wolves outside the boundary and being able to pick the one they want.
They just stand there and have no fear,” Yellowstone’s Wolf biologist Doug Smith explained to the New York Times.
While there are only 100 wolves in the park, it is estimated that there are at least 1,700 wolves living throughout the Northern Rocky Mountain states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
So, what do you think, should hunters be allowed to hunt just outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park?