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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