DNA Test Confirms That Endangered Wolf Was Killed in New York During Coyote Hunt

DNA testing on an animal killed during a coyote hunt in New York State last year has confirmed that the animal was actually an endangered wolf.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently shared the news, explaining that an initial analysis identifying the animal as an Eastern coyote was inaccurate. Eastern coyotes are slightly larger than average and have a mix of wolf, dog, and coyote ancestry. The animal’s DNA had been submitted voluntarily by the hunter for further testing to confirm these findings. It was sent to Princeton University, where it was determined that the animal was likely a male wolf.


The wolf was killed in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, about 40 miles west of Albany. Wildlife officials believe that the animal had likely come east from the Great Lakes region, where there’s an established population through Michigan, though it’s possible that it was a captive wolf that had gotten loose. This is only the third time in the last 25 years that a wolf has been confirmed in the wild in New York, where the species is protected as endangered.

Going forward, the DEC says, “DEC will monitor for additional signs of wolf presence and encourages the public to report sightings of unusually large animals. In addition, DEC will continue to provide information to hunters and trappers on ways to distinguish between coyotes and wolves.”


Like much of the rest of the country, wolves were eradicated by hunters in New York State. The DEC notes that the species was gone from the entire Northeast by 1900. There are now established wolf populations in the Great Lakes region and in the Intermountain West. However, wildlife officials in New York believe it’s unlikely that they’ll migrate over naturally to establish a population anytime soon, as it would require breeding females to make their way over, as well. Despite that, wildlife officials say there is suitable habitat for them.

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