The grey wolf, protected for more than 30 years, could see its endangered status removed nationwide.
Central Kentucky is coyote country. But the 33-kilo­gram animal shot by a hunter near Munfordville this spring was definitely not a coyote. Its huge paws, broad snout and massive build suggested that it was a grey wolf (Canis lupus) — the first to be shot in Kentucky in more than 150 years. DNA tests confirmed the animal’s identity in August.

The animal, a possible stray from hundreds of kilometres away in Michigan or Minnesota (although it cannot be ruled out that it was once captive), was also a player in a growing debate that mixes science, politics and passionate public opinion. From Kentucky to California, wolves are forcing biologists and policy-makers to re-examine the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the very definition of an ‘endangered’ species.

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