A strange wolf-like creature was shot near Denton that has authorities searching for answers.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks tried to shed some light on a "large wolf-like animal" shot by a rancher near Denton, but were just as puzzled initially by the May 2018 incident. It was a mystery that set the Internet ablaze with theories as pictures of the creature spread far and wide.
The rancher in question shot the animal as it approached his livestock--then reported it as required by Montana law--but it left biologists are puzzling over what exactly the creature was.
Bruce Auchly, Information Manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told Great Falls Tribune, "We have no idea what this was until we get a DNA report back. It was near a rancher's place, it was shot, and our game wardens went to investigate. The whole animal was sent to our lab in Bozeman. That's the last I ever heard of it."
The animal shared some characteristics of a wolf, to be sure. It had long grayish coat, large head and an extended snout, but its legs and body were too short; even the teeth weren't quite right, also being too short.
Many are speculating that it could be some sort of "cryptid" or unknown animal that science hasn't identified yet.
"Several things grabbed my attention when I saw the pictures. The ears are too big. The legs look a little short. The feet look a little small, and the coat looks weird. There's just something off about it," said Ty Smucker, wolf management specialist for Montana FWP.
The carcass was shipped to the labs at Bozeman to extract DNA samples.
"We've had a few instances of wolf-dog hybrids out there. One was out somewhere in eastern central Montana killing sheep like crazy. Finally, we caught it and it turned out to be a hybrid," Smucker also related.
In the end, it turned out the creature was a known animal once official testing was completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's forensic laboratory in Ashland Oregon.
"The conclusion was clear -- this animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains," a press release read.
So, why all the excitement for a known animal? Montana FWP suspected it had something to do with the deceptive-looking original photos that spread across the Internet. The pictures seem to exaggerate some of the animal's more notable features in a way that makes it appear different to us.
"It seemed to have short legs and big ears but inspection of the animal at the wildlife lab in Bozeman "revealed a relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf" Montana FWP told CBS News.