DNR-signThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources is trying to figure out if an animal shot by a coyote hunter in Osceola County Sunday is a wolf or dog, or a mixture of some sort.

DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says the hunter quickly determined it was not a coyote and called a conservation officer.

“It’s a fairly large animal. As a matter of fact, it’s a little more than 90 pounds, which is one of the reasons we do want to have it tested,” Baskins explains. “Most of the wild wolves that we would have in the states to the north of us tend to be a little lighter. They would be between the 70 to 80-pound range.”

Baskins says they’ll look at the animal’s DNA and do some other standard testing. He says they will pull some teeth to determine the age of the animal and also look at the stomach contents to see what the animal had been eating. DNR wildlife biologists say the genetic lineage between dogs and wolves is about 95 percent the same or more, and Baskins says that makes it difficult to tell what an animal is just by looking at it.

“We need to first determine what kind of animal we are even dealing with, and that’s why were are having the DNA testing done,” Baskins says. He says the canine species can breed amongst themselves. “So, it’s not uncommon to have an animal that may have the look and all the wolf characteristics, but actually be a low percentage of wolf.”

Baskins says wolf sightings in Iowa are not common, but do occur. An animal shot in Buchanan County in February 2014 that was confirmed to be a wolf, and a wolf sighting was also confirmed in Jones County in 2014. There were four unconfirmed sightings of wolves in 2014 according to DNR records.

“Populations have been growing a little bit in some of the states to the north of us. And it’s not uncommon in the wildlife world for animals to expand their territories a little bit when populations are expanding, and for some of those lone animals to wander off on their own to seek new territories,” Baskins says.

Minnesota and Wisconsin are home to several hundred packs of Great Lakes wolves and if this animal if found to be a wolf, it could have come from those packs.