DNA tests now confirm the mystery animal shot by a Montana rancher was indeed a gray wolf.
In a story out of Helena, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks authorities had taken the carcass of a then-unidentified mystery animal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Oregon. A rancher had shot the animal in central Montana and turned it in for DNA tests, and the results are indisputable: it's a gray wolf.
"Within species, there can be variability that's not surprising at all," Geneticist Mary Curtis said of the non-lactating female's peculiar physical variations.
A news report about the mystery animal shot near Denton told a little more.
The approximately 3-year-old female's teeth looked different, as did its short legs, long coat of gray hair, bigger-than-normal head and extended snout.
The unique features were enough to Montana wildlife officials to take the unusual-looking animal to a wildlife health laboratory for further testing. According to the FWP there are approximately 900 wolves in the state at this time.