$5000 offered for info on gunman after rare white wolf dies

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Yellowstone National Park is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who shot and fatally injured one of the park's well-known white wolves last month. The female wolf was one of three known white wolves in the Park and was popular with tourists and photographers.

"Staff on scene agreed the animal could not be saved due to the severity of its injuries", a park spokesman said after the grim discovery, explaining why the wolf was subsequently euthanized.

Hikers found the wolf - mortally wounded - inside the park's northern boundary close to Gardiner, Montana, on April 11.

It is the first time a wolf has been shot in the park in at least 10 years, as far as park officials are aware, said Morgan Warthin, a public affairs specialist with the park.

Since their reintroduction into the lower 48 States in 1995, wolves have become a polarizing animal in the West: on one side, environmentalists and wildlife advocates. The Montana-based Wolves of the Rockies group offered up an additional $5,000 to increase the overall amount of the reward. The female wolf was found near Gardiner, Montana along the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Park officials said the wolf likely was shot between 1 a.m. April 10 and 2 p.m. April 11.

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It's illegal to shoot animals in the park - or to discharge a firearm.

Her remains were brought to a US Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in OR for a necropsy, where officials determined that it had been mortally wounded by a hunter's rifle.

Screengrab from YouTube video showing a white wolf at Yellowstone.

Wolves are predators and commonly prey on large game which hunters are eager to have for themselves, such as elk.

If you have information about this incident that could help with this investigation, please contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB).

The dead wolf was double the average age of a Yellowstone wolf and had at least 20 pups, of which 14 became yearlings.

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