On May 16, a rancher shot the animal after it was spotted in a pasture with livestock near the town of Denton, Mont. The rancher reported it to the authorities, as the law requires, officials said.
Wildlife experts said the creature has similar features to a wolf, but some aspects seemed a bit off.
Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) regional spokesman Bruce Auchly said the animal’s front claws and canine teeth are too short and its ears are too tall in proportion to its skull for it to be a purebred wolf.
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In a media release, the FWP said the creature was a “young, non-lactating female and a canid, a member of the dog family that includes dogs, foxes, coyotes and wolves.”
Social media users seemed to have their own theories, with some people comparing it to the mythical creature, “dogman.” Other said it may be a “dire wolf,” an extinct species of wolf known for being depicted on the show Game of Thrones.
Scientists are now running DNA tests to determine exactly what it is, but that could take weeks or even months.
“Something was not right about the animal, it does not look like a wild wolf,” an FWP spokesperson said on Twitter video. “So with that question…what is it then? The department has collected some samples for genetic testing and we will be sending those samples off.”
He said the strongest suspicion about what the animal is, is that it’s a “wolf-dog hybrid.”
Wolf hunting is permitted in the state and residents are allowed to kill wolves that threaten their property, the wildlife agency noted in their news release.
— With files from the Associated Press