DNA test confirms canine shot in Missouri is a wolf

Jan 14, 2014

Scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used DNA tests to confirm this canid, shot and killed in Wayne County, is a grey wolf.
Credit Courtesy of Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Update 11.21 a.m. 1/15/14: MDC reports the wolf was shot by the landowner while hunting. The department says wolves can be mistaken for coyotes sometimes, though coyotes rarely grow to more than 30 pounds. Coyotes may be taken by hunting with the right permit.

A canine shot and killed in Wayne County last November has been identified as a gray wolf, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. DNA testing of the animal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirms the species.

The animal is most closely related to gray wolves in the Great Lakes region, the department says. Sometimes, wolves wander out of their typical region to find new territory.

This particular wolf was shot on private property last fall. The landowner then contacted the department -- some wolves are federally protected.

“Because of the great variety in the bodies of dogs, coyotes and wolves, it’s important that we get DNA evidence to ensure correct identification of the animal,” Missouri Department of Conservation Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer said in a statement. “We have DNA signatures from all captive wolves and wolf-hybrids in the state. We also compare DNA from the animal in question with DNA of wolves around the country to help determine the origin of the animal.”

After an initial examination, Beringer determined the animal was 80 pounds, female and about two-years old. No microchip, tag or tattoo was found on the animal.