UPDATED 12-2-15 at 1:45 p.m. with confirmation that animal is a dog, not a wolf.
UPDATED 12-2-15 at 10:30 a.m. with response from WDFW wolf expert.
UPDATED with observation of wildlife biologist.
ENDANGERED SPECIES -- "That's no coyote, and it doesn't look like a dog," said Al Dolomont, recounting his thoughts after he'd driven past a road-killed animal today on U.S. Highway 2.
His friend, Lynda Andrew, told him to turn around because she thought she saw a dead wolf near the intersection with Deer Park-Milan Road in Spokane County.
She could be right -- but probably not, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf specialist Trent Roussin.
Dolomont and Andrew snapped photos and reported the animal to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Regional Office in Spokane.
No confirmation of the species has been announced -- there's always the possibility it could be a wolf hybrid.
Update: Roussin says it's almost surely a dog and not on the department's wolf-monitoring radar, although he said the agency gets complaints about the number of loose-running dogs in the region.
Bart George, a wildlife biologist for the Kalispel Tribe, handled the animal before it was picked up by WDFW.
"I would bet that it's a hybrid," he said, noting that while it had no sign of having had a collar, it seemed well fed like a pet. "It's feet were a little small and its ears a bit long for a wolf."
He also noted dog tracks near the road where the carcass was found.
Update: A reader has emailed saying she spotted and photographed this animal in the same vicinity on Oct. 11.
- So if it turns out to be a dog or wolf hybrid, that brings up the next question that's more troubling than if the roadkill were a wolf: Who are the people allowing unmarked dogs like this to run loose, form packs and harass wildlife?
Wolves are known to have been passing through Spokane County for years. Recent reports to The Spokesman-Review suggest the county may have a pack, although none has been confirmed.