A wolf that escaped from a drive-thru wildlife tourist attraction in southeastern Idaho has been shot and killed by the owner of the business, Idaho officials said.
Courtney Ferguson, the owner of Yellowstone Bear World near Yellowstone National Park, tracked the wolf through snow and shot it about an hour after it escaped from the facility that also has bears, elk, bison and deer.
"Courtney saw the tracks in the snow, tracked the wolf down and shot it," Doug Peterson of Idaho Fish and Game told the Standard Journal in a story published Monday. "He took care of it all by himself and relatively quickly and easily."
Peterson said the wolf was owned by Ferguson so the state's hunting rules did not apply to the killing of the wolf.
"The wolves we hunt belong to the citizens of Idaho," Peterson said. "This particular wolf of Courtney's belonged to him."
All the animals at the facility that is now closed for the winter were born and raised there, the company said.
Yellowstone National Park has drawn a record of more than 4 million visitors this year, many hoping to spot wolves and grizzly bears in the wild. Ferguson's wildlife park sits on one of the major routes into the park, with a selling point that visitors can see the animals up close.
"It's a different setting than the park but they do get to see what those animals look like," said Jim White, regional supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game. He called the escape of the wolf "an unusual, isolated incident."
Ferguson did not immediately respond Tuesday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.
Businesses with wildlife like Bear World operate with a license issued by Idaho Fish and Game and permits from the agency required for each wolf or wolf hybrid, said agency spokesman Mike Keckler.
The agency in 2015 suspended the license of the northern Idaho company Wolf People after determining the destination spot for people who want to see wolves failed to comply with a 2012 agreement prohibiting visitors from having physical contact with the wolves.
Keckler said the agency is not allowed to comment on the status of Bear World's license or permits without the company's permission.