'Wolf-Like' Animal That Baffled Officials Turns Out To Be A Regular Wolf

Hilary Hanson

The mystery of a seemingly bizarre “wolf-like” creature that was shot and killed in Montana last month has been solved: The animal was a wolf all along.

DNA results from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Oregon show the lupine creature was a female gray wolf. (The gray wolf is a wolf species, and individuals can vary in color.) The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced the results in a press release on Monday.

The animal whose identity baffled wildlife officials and piqued public curiosity turns out to be a female gray wolf. (Photo: Montana Fish Parks and Wildlife)
The animal whose identity baffled wildlife officials and piqued public curiosity turns out to be a female gray wolf. (Photo: Montana Fish Parks and Wildlife)

In May, a rancher shot and killed the wolf on his property near the Montana town of Denton. He brought the carcass to state wildlife authorities, who were puzzled by its appearance and speculated the animal may have been a wolf-dog hybrid. Officials sent the carcass for further inspection to a lab in Bozeman, Montana. Tissue samples were then sent to the Oregon lab for DNA testing.

Initial “confusion” about the creature could have been “due to the condition of the animal and the photos, which seemed to show short legs and big ears,” the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in Monday’s statement. When researchers examined the animal in Bozeman, they found a “relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf,” according to the release.

Although officials were initially puzzled by the animal, further inspection revealed a "relatively normal looking" gray wolf. (Photo: Montana Fish Parks and Wildlife)
Although officials were initially puzzled by the animal, further inspection revealed a "relatively normal looking" gray wolf. (Photo: Montana Fish Parks and Wildlife)

The wolf was 2 years to 3 years old and she wasn’t lactating, meaning she didn’t leave a litter of pups behind.

The rancher who shot the wolf didn’t break the law, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks statement noted, because it’s legal in Montana for property owners to shoot wolves they believe threaten their livestock.

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Wolf (Canus lupus) behind tree
Wolf (Canus lupus) behind tree
Captive, Duluth, Minnesota, USA
Captive, Duluth, Minnesota, USA
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. It is the largest member of its family, with males averaging 43-45 kg (95-99 lb), and females 36-38. 5 kg (79-84. 9 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to a German shepherd, or sled dog, but has a larger head, narrower chest, longer legs, straighter tail and bigger paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a mottled gray in colour, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. It is the largest member of its family, with males averaging 43-45 kg (95-99 lb), and females 36-38. 5 kg (79-84. 9 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to a German shepherd, or sled dog, but has a larger head, narrower chest, longer legs, straighter tail and bigger paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a mottled gray in colour, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.
United States, Minnesota, Gray Wolf or Timber Wolf (Canis lupus)
United States, Minnesota, Gray Wolf or Timber Wolf (Canis lupus)
Gray wolf (Canis lupus) pack in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Captive animal.
Gray wolf (Canis lupus) pack in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Captive animal.
Close up of North American timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon)
Close up of North American timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon)
Gray wolf, timber wolf, (Canis lupus), Monument Valley, Utah, USA, adult howling.
Gray wolf, timber wolf, (Canis lupus), Monument Valley, Utah, USA, adult howling.
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) mother with her pup in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Captive Animal
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) mother with her pup in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Captive Animal
Gray or timber wolf (Canis lupus) is running on a snow covered slope, captive
Gray or timber wolf (Canis lupus) is running on a snow covered slope, captive
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus)
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus)
Closeup of a Grey Wolf in Parc Omega, Quebec.
Closeup of a Grey Wolf in Parc Omega, Quebec.
An alert grey wolf, or timber wolf, watching its winter snow covered surroundings.
An alert grey wolf, or timber wolf, watching its winter snow covered surroundings.
Gray wolf (Canis Lupus) also known as the Timber wolf. Standing on rock, howling. Controlled situation in the Yosemite area of CA. USA
Gray wolf (Canis Lupus) also known as the Timber wolf. Standing on rock, howling. Controlled situation in the Yosemite area of CA. USA
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus)
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus)
Gray Wolf Pack in Snow
Gray Wolf Pack in Snow
Gray Wolf Howling in Snow
Gray Wolf Howling in Snow
Beautiful wolf looking out from woodland.
Beautiful wolf looking out from woodland.
Gray wolf peering from the forest, (Canis lupus), Montana, USA.
Gray wolf peering from the forest, (Canis lupus), Montana, USA.
Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) Next to Birch Tree - captive animal
Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) Next to Birch Tree - captive animal
A close up portrait of a Wild Wolf laying down.
A close up portrait of a Wild Wolf laying down.
Two fighting wolves
Two fighting wolves
Wolf scene at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. Their real life friends were keeping us up at night in our tent.
Wolf scene at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. Their real life friends were keeping us up at night in our tent.
Grey Wolf
Grey Wolf

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.