Thursday, May 21, 2015

Coyote hunter in Colorado shoots what may be endangered wolf

May 19, 2015  • 

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting DNA tests on an animal shot by a coyote hunter near Kremmling to determine if the animal is a gray wolf.

The hunter thought the animal, which was shot near Woldord Mountain Reservoir, was a coyote, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports. After shooting the animal he realized it looked like a wolf and turned it over to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials initially inspected the animal visually, which showed it was a wild, male grey wolf weighing about 90 pounds. DNA testing will take a couple of weeks. It is possible the animal is a wolf-dog hybrid, a dog or a coyote.

"It's too early to speculate" whether the animal is a wolf, said Steve Segin, a public affairs officer with the Fish and Wildlife Service. "Until the DNA comes back, we're just not going to know."

Grey wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Colorado is not home to any officially recognized packs, but they are capable of traveling long distances and have been confirmed as visiting the state. Young males sometimes are rejected by a pack, so they head out on their own.

"Obviously, killing an endangered species is illegal," Segin said. "What's important is the hunter did the right thing and contacted Parks and Wildlife."