WAYNE COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - DNA testing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed a grey wolf was shot and killed in Wayne County in late November.
A private landowner shot the wolf while hunting. This wolf was similar to grey wolves from the Great Lakes population.
The landowner contacted MDC after he shot the animal and gave it to the Department so MDC could determine the animal’s species. MDC transferred the carcass to the USFWS for DNA testing.
“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,” MDC Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer said in a news release. “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.”
Initial examination of the animal by Beringer determined that it was an 80-pound female canine, about two years old. The animal did not have a microchip, tag or tattoo, which would identify it as an escaped captive animal.
Beringer said wolves can appear similar to coyotes, but are significantly larger. Coyotes seldom exceed 30 pounds in Missouri.
According to MDC, there is no known breeding population of wolves in Missouri. Over the past decade, Missouri hunters have occasionally shot wolves that wandered here from other states, mistaking them for coyotes.
Beringer said the few wolves that have appeared in Missouri in recent years are young animals from other states seeking new territories, particularly from Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan.