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Flashback: Rancher Sets Off Media Storm After Killing What He Thought Was a Wolf

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It’s not unusual for ranchers in Montana to have to shoot a wolf that gets too close to its property or livestock.

But what one rancher shot May 16 was not a wolf, even though it may have looked like one at first glance.

While it had many characteristics of a wolf, the fur was not like that of a wolf. It’s ears were also too big and its legs were too short.

What type of animal it was isn’t even certain to wildlife officials.

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“We have no idea what this was until we get a DNA report back,” said Bruce Auchly, information manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told the Great Falls Tribune. “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.”

As pictures of the animal circulated on social media, plenty of people chimed in with what they thought it was.

“That’s a grizzly cub,” one person wrote. “Under a year and starving from the look.”

Would you be frightened to see something like this in the wild?

Another guess had a conspiracy element to it.

“That could very well be what’s being called Dogman,” another person suggested. “They’re spotted each day and the government quells any and all reports. Several people report being strong armed into keeping quiet about their reports by men wearing black suits. These are just facts. Look into if if you don’t believe it.”

One wildlife official admits to being truly puzzled by what he saw.

“Several things grabbed my attention when I saw the pictures,” said Ty Smucker, wolf management specialist for Montana FWP. “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.”

One possibility, according to Smucker, is a wolf/dog hybrid, which are unusual but not unheard of in Montana.

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“We’ve had a few instances of wolf/dog hybrids out there,” Smucker said. “One was out somewhere in eastern central Montana killing sheep like crazy. Finally, we caught it and it turned out to be a hybrid.”

According to the International Wolf Center, nearly all such hybrids are bred in captivity.

The body of the still-unidentified animal has been transported, examined and frozen. The rancher was within his legal rights to shoot the animal based on state law.

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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Phoenix, Arizona
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Media, Sports, Business Trends




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