ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – After a DNA test released Tuesday, July 26, confirmed that an animal shot last December in the Greater Capital Region was a gray wolf, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said otherwise. “Initial DNA analysis conducted determined the wild canid to be most closely identified as an eastern coyote,” said Lori Severino, a spokesperson for the DEC.
New York’s eastern coyote population, said Severino, has been shown to have a mix of coyote, wolf, and domestic dog genetics, as is the case with the DNA of this animal. DNA tests vary based on the method each lab is using and how results are interpreted by individual scientists, she said.
“As New York’s eastern coyote population has been shown to have a mix genetics, further testing is being conducted to provide more clarity of the genetic composition of this animal,” concluded the DEC spokesperson.
Trent University in Ohio concluded through their initial DNA testing that the animal was 99% wolf. The tests came after Joseph Butera, a member of the Northeast Ecological Recovery Society, saw the animal on a hunter’s Facebook page.
The animal was likely taken by a coyote hunter. The coyote hunting season in New York State stretches from October 1 to March 28, when coyotes can be taken day or night, over bait or with dogs to roust and chase them. There is no daily take limit, according to the DEC.
The animal, shot in December, was taken in the region south of the Adirondacks and north of the Catskills, according to Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. Tests showed that the animal was killed about 120 miles from New York City and less than 100 miles from both Massachusetts and Connecticut as the crow flies. The exact location was not released, out of concern for other wolves that may be in the area.
Lands across New York State still make for an ideal wolf habitat, despite DEC’s rebuttal to Trent University’s DNA test. Wolves live just 60 miles north of New York’s border with Canada, a distance a wolf can travel in under two days- so it is not unlikely that one made its way into the state last December.