DNA Tests Confirm Hunter Killed Gray Wolf in Kentucky

A DNA analysis has confirmed that the animal shot by a hunter in Kentucky was in fact a gray wolf. Hart County resident James Troyer took the animal while predator hunting on the family farm last March 1. James said he had taken a coyote on the property two weeks prior but the animal he took that night at 100 yards was much different. "I was like - wow - that thing was big!" James told Lex18.com. "It looked like a wolf, but who is going to believe I shot a wolf?"

Hardly anyone, it turns out, as wolves haven't been spotted in the state in more than a century.

James was however able to persuade Kevin Raymond, a wildlife biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to at least look at the animal. Once Kevin saw the 73-pound canine, he contacted furbearer biologist Laura Patton, who submitted samples to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Wildlife Research Center in Colorado for DNA testing. Tests confirmed that the animal was a gray wolf. Although the animals are protected, charges aren't expected to be filed against James for shooting the animal as no wolf has been documented in the state since the mid-1800s. The pelt has been confiscated by the government.

But how did the wolf end up in Kentucky?

The answer may be on the animal's teeth which showed a large amount of plaque. Great Lakes Region wolf biologists that examined the animal said this could indicate that the animal spent at least some time in captivity. Wild wolves have little plaque build up as their diet involves a great deal of bone crushing which removes plaque.

Do you think the wolf was wild, a released pet, or something else?

Comment below!