Photo of 'Wolf-like' Animal Sparks Speculation of Possible Cryptid Species
A picture accompanying the story of a "wolf-like" animal shot and killed at a family ranch in Denton, Montana, has the internet speculating on the creature's species--be that some sort of wolf hybrid or something far stranger, such as the elusive cryptid dogman.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) warden Sgt. Kyle Andersen of the Lewistown Field Office spoke to KXLO news radio about the incident last Wednesday.
"A landowner shot what she believed to be a wolf several days ago," Andersen said. "It was reported to be near livestock."
According to Andersen, two game wardens arrived at the scene and took photographs--including the one above.
The photographs were sent to the Montana FWP wolf specialist in Great Falls, while the actual animal specimen was taken to a lab in Bozeman for examination.
"Based on the photograph we have some doubts as to whether or not it's a purebred wolf or a hybrid or a wild dog of sorts," explained Andersen.
The single photo released by the FWP has observers on the internet wondering if the animal might be something paranormal.
"Maybe the elusive cryptic Dogman," wrote one commenter.
"This appears to be a specimen of the Montanan cryptid called Shunka-Warakin," said another.
Still others are unconvinced that it's anything out of the ordinary.
"Not as big as you think," one skeptic commented. "Look [at the] size of [the] tailgate. It's the angle of the picture...people do that to make their fish look huge too. I'd go with a wolf cross..."
Update 5/25/18: The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks have released more photos of the animal.
In an emailed response to the Singular Fortean Society's inquiry about the planned DNA test, Sgt. Kyle Andersen stated that Montana FWP will "do a follow-up press release" regarding the test, but that it "might take months to get results."
The Singular Fortean Society will follow-up pending the results of that test.
Update 6/18/18: The animal pictured has been confirmed to be a gray wolf per the aforementioned DNA test.
Ty Smucker, wolf management specialist for Montana FWP, has spoken out to dispel some of the rumors surrounding the animal in these photos. He believes it to be neither a wolf nor a cryptid, but, rather, a wolf-dog hybrid.
"Several things grabbed my attention when I saw the pictures," he said in an interview with the Great Falls Tribune. "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."
"We've had a few instances of wolf-dog hybrids out there," Smucker added. "One was out somewhere in eastern central Montana killing sheep like crazy. Finally, we caught it and it turned out to be a hybrid."
Wolf-dog hybrids are normally the result of deliberate breeding by humans. While the two species can interbreed and produce viable offspring on their own, they do so only rarely in the wild, because wolves' territoriality means they normally kill unfamiliar dogs that enter their territory.
Wolfdogs are unpredictable; their behavioral tendencies range from bold, aggressive, and territorial to placid, submissive, and friendly. Because of this, the breeding of wolfdogs is highly regulated.
"If you have a wolfdog hybrid it's supposed to have a tattoo on a lip, and it's supposed to be registered with the state," Smucker said. "A lot of those people don't bother following regulations."
Unfortunately, this leads to many wolfdogs being released into the wild when their owners are unable to care for them.
According to the International Wolf Center, "Every year, thousands of pet wolves or hybrids are abandoned, rescued or euthanized because people purchase an animal they were not prepared to care for. A few facilities exist around the country that take in unwanted canines, but their resources are usually very limited.".
The official determination of precisely what type of animal was shot near Denton is pending a DNA test.