Gray Wolf Taken in Kentucky

(Adrienne C. Yancy, KDFWR)
(Adrienne C. Yancy, KDFWR)
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Updated: 8/14/2013 3:17 pm

A DNA analysis performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Wildlife Research Center in Colorado determined the 73-pound animal was a federally endangered gray wolf with a genetic makeup resembling wolves native to the Great Lakes Region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon confirmed the finding.

How the wolf found its way to a Munfordville hay ridge at daybreak in March remains a mystery. Wolves have been gone from the state since the mid-1800s.

Great Lakes Region wolf biologists said the animal's dental characteristics - a large amount of plaque on its teeth - suggest it may have spent some time in captivity. A largely carnivorous diet requiring the crushing of bone as they eat produces much less plaque on the teeth of wild wolves.

Hart County resident James Troyer took the animal with a shot from 100 yards away while predator hunting on his family's farm. Troyer, 31, said he had taken a coyote off the property just two weeks earlier.

But when he approached the downed animal he noticed it was much larger. "I was like - wow - that thing was big!" he recalled. "It looked like a wolf, but who is going to believe I shot a wolf?"

Because a free-ranging wolf has not been seen in the state for more than a century, biologists were skeptical at first. However, wildlife officials were aware that a few radio-collared northern wolves have wandered as far south as Missouri in the past decade.

Wolves resemble coyotes, except they are much larger. From a distance, the size difference is difficult to determine.

Troyer convinced Kevin Raymond, a wildlife biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to look at the animal. Once Raymond saw the animal was twice the size of a coyote, he contacted furbearer biologist Laura Patton, who submitted samples to federal officials for DNA testing.

Because state and federal laws prohibit the possession, importation into Kentucky or hunting of gray wolves, federal officials took possession of the pelt. Since this is the first free-ranging gray wolf documented in Kentucky's modern history, federal or state charges are not expected because there were no prior biological expectations for any hunter to encounter a wolf.

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Grandma1954 - 8/16/2013 12:14 PM
0 Votes
Sorry to burst you bubble, but if any wild animal, raccoon, ground hog, wild dog, fox, coyote, or grey wolf kills our goats, miniature cows or chickens, I will be judge jury and executioner. Why is it worse for me to kill an animal predator who is killing my livestock than for this predator to kill my animals. Too many regulations have remove common sense out of From the brains of the people in government office. My family has received many awards for conservation enhancement of animals and habitat. But I use my God given common sense.

jtdruen - 8/15/2013 2:24 PM
0 Votes
Kat sure isn't from Hart Co. KY. Your wolf avocation probably falls among deaf ears around people who have never even encountered one in the wild or ever even seen one. Early morning hunt, calling in predators isn't any joking matter. This guy made an easy mistake and immediately contacted the correct people. Go preach wolves in Wyoming or at least somewhere that has them.....

Kat Brekken - 8/14/2013 8:38 PM
0 Votes
If one can't tell a wolf from a coyote, then one shouldn't be hunting. I'm a hunter and wolf advocate. I advocate because the wolf is the one apex predator missing from the landscape for too long. It's easy to live with this animal, that has caused the healing of a terribly overgrazed Yellowstone, to recover to the healthiest the Park has ever been in my 58 years of observations. They don't hunt humans(never a recorded case of a wolf killing a human in America since recorded history); they do very little livestock depredation(less than 0.04% of cattle were lost to a wolf last year, while over 26% died of pneumonia); all other animals, including birds and fish benefit from wolves presence; the improve the game animals, by hunting those that are old, sick, injured, leaving the healthiest to breed(Montana went from around 88,000 elk in 1995 to over 143,000 this past year and for the third straight year, Wyoming had a record number of bull elk taken in the hunt; as Nature is allowed to balance itself naturally with wolves present, the other predators such as the coyote will diminish in numbers. Way to much myth and misinformation is given too much credit, when the science of the wolf has been published in numerous journals and articles. Check out The NAtional Wolfwatcher Coalition website and Facebook page for sound science and what you can do about the issues.
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