Montana confirms “mysterious canine” is actually a wolf
Last month, a Montana rancher shot a canine-like creature that left local experts and social media “scientists” scratching their heads. Was it a dog? A wolf? A coyote? Or a really funny looking bear? After weeks of speculation, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) confirmed last week that the “mysterious canine” is actually a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.
They confirmed this after comparing a sample of DNA from the animal with “thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs” at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) forensic laboratory in Ashland, OR, according to MFWP. While the animal’s appearance may have been baffling with its short legs and big ears, the DNA conclusion was crystal clear.
According to Mary Curtis, a FWS geneticist, “physical variations aren’t unusual for animals” and “within species there can be variability that’s not surprising at all.”
Curtis identified the wolf as a non-lactating female that was between two and three years old. Although unusual looking, Curtis says that the wolf could share similar physical traits with other members of her family. Regardless, mystery solved: the “mysterious canine” is only one of approximately 900 wolves that call Montana home.
Because wolves are considered recovered, it is not illegal for property owners to shoot one if it threatens livestock as was the case with this wolf.