Large Wolf-Like Canine Shot in Montana

   05.29.18

Large Wolf-Like Canine Shot in Montana

According to a news release from Montana’s department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, a huge canine that was recently killed has folks scratching their heads and wondering just what it is.

A BBC article even said, “Bizarre theories have circulated online that it could be a werewolf, a young grizzly bear, or a relative of Bigfoot.”

The critter's coat is not like that of a wolf. (Image: Montana FWP)
The critter’s coat is not like that of a wolf.
(Image: Montana FWP)

A large wolf-like animal shot and killed May 16 by a rancher near Denton has wildlife officials and the public wondering what it was.

Here’s what is not in question: The animal came within several hundred yards of the rancher’s livestock. He shot it and reported it as required by law. The animal was a young, non-lactating female and a canid, a member of the dog family, which includes dogs, foxes, coyotes and wolves.

Those facts are not unusual in Montana’s farm and ranch county.

Although it was initially reported to be a wolf, it lacks a number of wolf traits and is most likely a cross-breed of some sort.

Wolves' paws are much larger than these. (Image: Montana FWP)
Wolves’ paws are much larger than these.
(Image: Montana FWP)

[S]everal Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ wolf specialists looked at photos of the animal and collectively doubted it was a purebred wolf: the canine teeth were too short, the front paws too small and the claws on the front paw were too long.

Head & body shape differ from wolves. (Image: Montana FWP)
Head & body shape differ from wolves.
(Image: Montana FWP)

Instead of making assumptions, it was decided they’d take tissue samples from the formerly-fearsome critter and send them off for DNA testing.

In a laboratory, scientists extract DNA from cells, looking for markers specific to individual species. Those markers are then compared to samples of known species on hand.

I think it’s most likely a cross between a wolf and a wild dog. Do you agree?

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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