ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Recent tests confirmed that an animal killed during a coyote hunt in upstate New York last year was a wolf, state environmental officials said Thursday. The results reviewed last week contradicted an initial analysis that had concluded it was an Eastern Coyote, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Environmental officials said it is only the third wolf identified in the wild statewide in 25 years. Wolves are protected in New York as an endangered species.
Officials said they weren’t sure where the animal was from, but that it was likely from the Great Lakes area, though that wolf population isn’t known to have spread past Michigan. They said it could have been a captive animal that escaped or was released.
The wolf was killed in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, about 40 miles west of Albany. After experts reviewing the initial DNA analysis concluded it was a coyote, DNA submitted by the hunter was sent to Princeton University for further testing, which indicated it likely was a male wolf.
Wolves are believed to have been eradicated from the Northeast by the start of the 20th century, with the gap filled by coyotes, who have become common in the region. Yet many residents have reported seeing animals they believe more closely resemble the larger wolves, and occasionally hearing howling.
Some advocates say wolves are in New York and New England and could be crossing over the frozen St. Lawrence River while heading south from Canada. DEC said that it “will continue to work with federal, state and local partners to advance additional conservation actions to continue to build a network of protected landscapes that provide habitat for threatened and endangered species in the state.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.