One of Yellowstone National Park’s most popular wolves has been shot dead by a trophy hunter.
Spitfire, also known as Wolf 926F, was killed legally a few miles outside a park entrance in Montana, according to animal rights group Wolves of the Rockies.
The organisation shared the news on its Facebook page on Wednesday.
Spitfire was previously the alpha female leader of the Lamar valley wolfpack.
Her mother was also killed by a hunter in 2012 and Spitfire was credited with keeping the pack together after her death.
Both animals were stars in an area described by Yellowstone officials as a “wolf-watching mecca”, which attracts animal lovers from all over the world.
Wolf hunting licences in Montana cost just $19 (£15) for residents and $50 (£39) for others, according to the Wolf Conservation Centre.
The predators were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995 but remain at the centre of a debate in the US between conservationists who argue that the US wolf population needs protection, and hunters and farmers who argue that rising predator numbers are out of control.
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