A coyote hunter in Iowa shot dead the first gray wolf to be spotted in the state since 1925.
The incident, which took place in February, transpired near Fairbank. The unnamed hunter is believed to have shot-dead the female wolf because he mistook it for a coyote.
The terminated wolf weighed between 65 and 70 pounds, which is the normal size for wolves in neighboring states, but is around twice as large as the average coyote.
After he shot the creature, the hunter inspected the suppose coyote and then concluded that it might have been a wolf. Hunting wolves is illegal in Iowa as they are a protected species, but it is actually legal to shoot coyote in the state. He then brought the supposed wolf to the DNR office in Manchester for examination – where biologists took DNA samples that later proved it was one of the endangered species.
DNR Conservation Officer Scott Kinseth admitted that the un-identified hunter hasn’t been punished for his error because of the way he acted after the shooting, and because, he believes, it was a genuine mistake.
He added that the hunter co-operated with the DNR throughout the ordeal, and that he had no idea he had done anything legally or morally wrong because he believed that he had shot a coyote.
Vince Evelsizer, a DNR furbearer specialist, explained that he “was surprised but not that surprised” by the revelation as Wisconsin and Minnesota have substantial wolf populations. He added, “Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them.”
Evelsizer is now hoping that other hunters can learn from this one shooter’s mistake, saying of the gray wolf, “They are protected animals. We know they are here. Make sure of your target. If in doubt, don’t shoot.”
This predicament was predicted by a gray wolf status report that was written last summer. Its last paragraph read, “If the current trend continues, I think it is only a matter of time before a validated wild gray wolf is killed in the state.”
Iowa was previously the home to two sub-species of gray wolf – the Great Plains wolf and the gray timber wolf.
[Image via Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock]