Animal killed by Ky hunter was confirmed endangered wolf

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“Federal officials recently confirmed that an animal taken by a hunter near Munfordville in Hart County on March 16 of 2013 is indeed a gray wolf,” according to the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Services. (USFWS or FWS)

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Natural Resources along with the USFWS issued a release verifying that a Hart County predator hunter shot a federally endangered wolf.

A DNA analysis also stated that the animal’s genetic makeup resembled that of Great Lakes Region wolves. The KDFWR added that the animal’s teeth contained a large amount of plaque, meaning it more than likely had been in captivity.

Which begs the question — is it a wolf that spent time as a pet in Kentucky? Or does the Department really think it was truly a “free-ranging” wolf?

Photos courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

If it was, then how in the wide world of wolves did it get into Kentucky, you might ask? That’s what the hunter, who made a 100-yard shot, is wondering after he thought he’d put down another coyote. According to the press release, hunter James Troyer contacted a biologist from the KDFWR because the animal – at 73 pounds – appeared to be twice the size of a coyote. 

According to the KKDFWR, this is the first free-ranging wolf documented in Kentucky in more than century.

Over in neighboring Missouri, a hunter shot an 83-pound wolf with a crossbow in November 2012, also mistaking it for a coyote. Missouri also hasn’t been home to wolves since the late 1800s.

It is against state and federal laws to possess a gray wolf, so the feds took the pelts.

This begs the question of how difficult it is to discern the difference between the two carnivores? And now, wait … there’s a new bark in the mix – as the coywolf emerges.

The Coywolf debate

It’s been circulating in predator hunting crowds that there’s this hybrid running in packs across the country, a coywolf. Biologists continue to research and debate this theory. If so, it will make it more difficult for hunters to identify their game before taking a shot and many more wildlife agencies will be called out to identify animals afterward.

David Suzuki, host of CBC’s “The Nature of Things,” based an episode last September on the revelation that Eastern coyotes and Great Lakes wolves have mixed. A coywolf has the skull of a coyote and the teeth of a wolf. Suzuki believes the coywolf inhabits the Eastern Seaboard, and is populating wolf country. 

Lest we only hang our belief on a TV show, in October 2011, the “Journal of Mammalogy” reported that hybridization is a threat to the expansion of wolves in this country. 

Photos courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

According to the journal, scientists analyzed scat found in a northern Virginia colony of coyotes and discovered one common DNA haplotype common to a wolf. (Think back to your biology class – a haplotype is set of determinants located on a single chromosome.)  That nugget told them that wolves and coyotes had mixed. Scientists  are concerned about coyotes breeding with endangered red wolves in the Southeast. 

Since coyotes may grow gray fur, it is imperative that we, as hunters, learn to identify them before taking the final shot. In the meantime, it’s interesting to watch nature and the course it takes with hybridization, which is something none of us can control.

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10 thoughts on “Animal killed by Ky hunter was confirmed endangered wolf

  1. if they don’t know the difference between a coyote and a wolf, they have no business shooting it. For heaven’s sake, they could shooting someone’s dog (Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky)

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  3. If the fish and wild life thinks people are not going to shoot a full grown wolf that is probably 10 x more dangerous compared to a coyote you are out of you ever loving mind . Every hunter that comes across a wolf should put it down right away no questions asked . Talk about killing deer , dogs ,cats and small kids .

    1. Kids? Proof please. It’s astounding how little you know about which you rant. Why do you think there are so many deer east of the Mississippi? Because the only real predator they have is man, and you’re not a good enough hunter to do your job to control the population. Wolves can do that. If you want to kill apex predators, it means you know less than zero about how Wilderness functions. Kids. Classic. What a joke.

    2. You are one evil hunter who is misinformed about wolves – get educated on them instead of the old macho guy who thinks every thing with 4 legs should be killed – This makes me sick – the wolves are not the big bad wolf you hunters pretend them to be so you can kill them – they only kill to survive and that is not many – they do more good for the population than bad and if you took the time to get educated – you would know this – shame on you and all your kind who just like to kill to brag and shame on the KY lawmakers who allow hunting and trapping of innocent animals – they should all be replaced and you, should take the time to educate yourself on how good the wolf is for the environment!

    3. Steve – more children will be run over by cars or even killed by a human – than would ever be eaten by wolves. Large predators are essential for healthy ungulate populations. God knows better than we do.

  4. If i see a Wolf looking Coyote, I will do my Best to Kill it, just like all the other Coyotes.
    And if I don’t get it the first time I will be out there every day till I do kill it.

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