Mysterious wolf-like creature killed in Montana ID'd through DNA test

Federico Mansilla
Junio 19, 2018

Scientists found there is no need to fear the full moon - the unusual critter was an 84.5-pound gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.

The canine creature shot near Denton last month is actually a gray wolf, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Photos of the animal appeared to show a canine-like creature but one with short legs and big ears, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks news release.

Researchers chock up the confusion surrounding the animal to its condition and the publicized photos - which, due to whatever unusual perspective, showed short legs and long ears.

Wildlife officials in Montana sent some DNA to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, and researchers there compared the sample to thousands of other samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs. Inspection of the animal at the FWP wildlife health lab in Bozeman revealed a relatively normal looking, dark-brown wolf.

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"Within species, there can be variability", said Mary Curtis, a geneticist with the Wildlife Service. She said it wasn't at all surprising the grey wolf looked like this.

The dead wolf was a non-lactating female (so not a mother), but wildlife researchers added that her physical traits would likely be shared by her siblings and parents - and might even continue to be passed down to future generations. It was roughly 4 feet long and between 2 and 3 years old, officials said. This marks the 13th consecutive year that Montana has far exceeded wolf recovery goals.

Property owners in Montana have broad legal authority to shoot wolves they feel might be a threat to their livestock, as was the case with this wolf near Denton.

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