New DNA Test Confirms That An Endangered Wolf Thought To Be A Coyote Was In Fact Killed In New York State By A Hunter Last Year

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently confirmed that an animal killed by a hunter in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, during the 2021 coyote hunting season was in fact a male wolf.

As per a statement released by the DEC, initial DNA analysis completed this summer mistakenly determined the wild canid to be most closely identified as an Eastern coyote.

This is the third confirmed wolf identified in the wild in New York in the past 25 years. Wolves are, and continue to be, protected in New York State as an endangered species.

Currently, the origin of this Otsego animal is unknown. DNA tests indicate that the animal is most likely from the Great Lakes population of wolves, which currently have no established populations in any adjacent state and no known wolves closer than Michigan. It is unknown if this animal was a wild animal that moved into New York or if this was a captive-bred animal that was released or escaped. Captive wolves released into the wild in New York have been documented in the past.

New York is home to a well-established, self-sustaining population of Eastern coyotes. Eastern coyotes are distinguished from coyotes west of the Mississippi by being slightly larger in size, weighing approximately 40 pounds more, and having a mix of coyote, wolf, and dog ancestry. Eastern coyotes are found throughout New York and populations are stable in most regions.

At present, the natural recolonization of wolves in New York is unlikely. For a pack of wolves to be established in the state, breeding populations of female wolves would need to return to the state and breed with male wolves which typically roam farther from their packs. DEC will monitor for additional signs of wolf presence and encourages the public to report sightings of unusually large animals in New York State.

The sighting of this wolf is a testament to New York State’s record of protecting habitat. which has greatly benefited wildlife populations, as noted by the return of moose and the Great Lakes piping plover to suitable habitat within the state.

DEC 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 throughout the state.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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