Outdoors

Seen near Wallace: Is it wolf or dog?

A reader submitted this photo snapped April 17 off I-90 between Wallace and Mullan.  Wildlife experts guess it's likely a wolf hybrid, but they can't be sure. (Jennifer Carter)
A reader submitted this photo snapped April 17 off I-90 between Wallace and Mullan. Wildlife experts guess it's likely a wolf hybrid, but they can't be sure. (Jennifer Carter)

WILDLIFE —  A reader submitted this photo snapped Wednesday off I-90 between Wallace and Mullan.  She said the eyes appeared blue like those of a husky, but the animal ran away as though it were wild.

 What's your guess? Wolf, wolf hybrid or husky?

Click “continue reading” for my opinion and the consensus from several Idaho Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists who work with wolves.

Rich Landers' response:

“This is tricky since I don't think eye color as seen in the field can be diagnosic, but I'm leaning toward dog or hybrid. According to several sources I checked, wolves are usually born with deep blue eyes which lighten and then gradually fade into the adult eye color over the next six to 10 weeks. A mature wolf's eyes are often amber/brown or gold, but also commonly come in hues of brown, gray, yellow, and green. Huskies often have blue eyes, and because of this people think there must be blue eyed wolves as well, but I have not seen mention of this. If you see a wolf with blue eyes and a nose that isn't black it seems likely it's a wolf-hybrid and not a full-blooded wolf. I'll send the photo to a few biologists and see what they think.”

Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle Region wildlife manager, after showing the photo to several wildlife biologists who work with wolves, responded:

“There is clear consensus that this is not a pure wolf, but likely a hybrid. Just having a photo makes it very tough to tell, but the legs appear too long for a purebred husky, and pelt coloration also implies not a pure husky, although the pink nose and blue eyes makes it appear not to be pure C. lupus either. We have had several wolves reported killed on I-90 near there, but the money's on a hybrid.”




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

By Rich Landers richl@spokesman.com (509) 459-5508


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