An animal that was killed by a hunter in New York State has now been confirmed as a wolf. There have only been three official wolf-spottings in the state in 25 years. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that the animal, which had been taken by a hunter in Otsego County, was a wolf. The animal had been killed in Cherry Valley during the coyote hunting season in 2021. The NYSDEC recently received DNA confirmation that the animal was a wolf.

Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash

Initially, the DNA analysis of the animal determined it to be most closely identified as an Eastern coyote. The hunter sent the animal's DNA to Dr. Bridgett vonHoldt, an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. After receiving the DNA test results from Dr. vonHoldt, DEC experts reviewed the findings and determined it is likely a male wolf.

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.

The origins of the wolf are undetermined at this time. The DNA results indicated that it is most likely from the Great Lakes population of wolves. DEC officials aren't sure if the wolf was a wild animal that migrated into New York or if it was a captive-bred animal that was released or escaped into the area. New York does have a population of Eastern coyotes, which have a mix of coyote, wolf, and dog ancestry.

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