SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Wildlife advocates are criticizing Utah officials for not suspending a coyote bounty program after they were told about a wolf sighting - one month before a rare gray wolf was killed by a hunter who mistook it for a coyote.

State officials defended their actions Thursday, saying it was inconclusive if the sighting was a wolf. Leslie McFarlane of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said the hunter who killed the gray wolf was not registered in the bounty program.

The Center for Biological Diversity says in a letter sent Wednesday that a 3-year-old female wolf named "Echo" could have been saved if the state had halted a program that pays out $50 per coyote. The coyote, the first seen near the Grand Canyon in seven decades, was killed in December 2014. The hunter was not charged.