Mysterious Creature Described as Dogman or Interbreed Is Just a Wolf, Scientists Say

A gray wolf in nature. Wildlife officials confirmed that a creature shot last month in Montana was in fact a gray wolf. Getty Images

In Montana, a rancher opened fire on a four-legged creature that was stalking his herd near Denton. He thought the beast was a wolf, but when wildlife authorities arrived on the scene, they weren't quite sure. The animal's short legs and big ears led experts to speculate that the creature could be a dog-wolf hybrid. On social media, conspiracy theorists suggested that it might something supernatural, like a dogman or a bigfoot. Now, the mystery is solved.

Officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed on Monday in a press release that the mysterious animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.

"The conclusion was clear," the agency said. They explained that there might have been some confusion because of how the wolf looked in photos that were circulated online. One picture shows the wolf lifeless on the back of a pickup truck, with a fresh bullet hole in his the back of his shaggy brown coat. The angle of the image could have obscured the features of the animal. Some photos "seemed to show short legs and big ears."

The canine creature shot in Montana a month ago that captured the curiosity of the nation is actually a gray wolf

— Independent Record (@helenaironline) June 18, 2018

To reach their conclusion about the identity of the wolf, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Oregon used a sample of the animal's DNA to compare it to thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs.

The wolf is thought to be between 2 and 3 years old. It's body measured 45 inches from the tip of the nose to the rump and it weighed in at about 84.5 pounds.

When news of the mysterious animal broke, wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Ty Smucker told the Great Falls Tribune, that the animal might be the result of interbreeding between a dog and a wolf.

"We've had a few instances of wolf-dog hybrids out there. One was out somewhere in eastern central Montana killing sheep like crazy," he said. "Finally, we caught it and it turned out to be a hybrid."

Although it can happen, interbreeding between these two animals is relatively rare because of the territorial natural of wolves, according to the animal protection organization the International Wolf Center in Minnesota.

A more likely explanation is that there is a great deal of variability in the wolf species, Mary Curtis, geneticist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement.