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Mysterious animal shot and killed in Montana was a wolf

UPDATED: Mon., June 18, 2018

A mysterious animal shot and killed in Montana has been identified as a gray wolf.

The wolf was legally shot and killed by a rancher near Denton, Mont. on May 16. Photos of the animal appeared to show a canine-like creature but one with short legs and big ears, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks news release. Additionally the creature was not in good physical shape and possibly starved.

After the animal was killed several wolf experts looked at the photos 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.”

That fueled online speculation with some arguing the animal was a starving grizzly cub, a dire wolf or even a Dogman. Dogman is a mythical creature similar to Bigfoot.

In reality the simplest explanation turned out to be the right one.

Montana’s wildlife agency sent the carcass to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Oreg. There the DNA of the mysterious creature was compared with “thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs. The conclusion was clear – this animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains,” according to the news release.

The full DNA report is available online.

Gray wolves are common in Montana with a 2017 population survey estimating there are about 900 wolves in the state. Ranchers are allowed to shoot wolves that they believe are a threat to livestock.

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