DNA Testing Confirms Montana Mystery Animal Was Gray Wolf

MT wolf mystery solved

In May a mystery creature was shot and killed on a ranch outside Denton. What the heck is it? Locals buzzed about the possibilities. Some said wolf with weird genetics…others grizzly cub…conspiracy theorists screamed Dire Wolf, an extinct prehistoric carnivore that some people swear still lives…or Dogman, a relative to Sasquatch, a large cryptozoological creature that looks and walks like an upright canid.

The DNA results are in and, ho-hum, it was a common old gray wolf. This press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks explains:

The canine creature shot in Montana a month ago that captured the curiosity of the nation is actually a gray wolf. DNA from the animal, which was shot legally by a rancher near Denton on May 16, was tested at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Ore.

The lab compared the animal’s DNA with thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs. The conclusion was clear – this animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.

Confusion about the animal might be due to the condition of the animal and the photos, which seemed to show short legs and big ears. Inspection of the animal at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife health lab in Bozeman revealed a relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf.

Physical variations aren’t unusual for animals, said Mary Curtis, geneticist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Within species there can be variability that’s not surprising at all,” Curtis said.

The wolf was a non-lactating female, which means she didn’t have a litter of pups. However, any unique physical features she has might also appear in her siblings or parents and may continue to be passed along by others in her family. The wolf measured 45 inches from the tip of the nose to the rump and weighed 84.5 pounds. It’s estimated that the wolf was between 2 and 3 years old.

According to the 2017 Montana Gray Wolf Program Annual Report, population estimates suggest there are approximately 900 wolves in Montana. This marks the 13th consecutive year that Montana has far exceeded wolf recovery goals.

Property owners in Montana have broad legal authority to shoot wolves they feel might be a threat to their livestock, as was the case with this wolf near Denton.

Oregon: Thrill Seekers Shoot Deer W/Arrows

doe with arrow in neckI saw this picture on Facebook the other day and it ticked me off, so I did a little digging.

KVAL in Eugene, Oregon, reports: “The wounds hadn’t killed the deer, which were seen walking around with the arrows sticking out of their bodies. Biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife worked with Oregon State Police wildlife officers to track down the deer.They tranquilized the animals, removed the arrows and treated the wounds.

“The deer – an adult doe and a yearling doe – showed no visible signs of infection.

“’Pictures of these deer stuck with arrows have been circulating widely in the media and social media, and understandably, it’s upsetting to see,” said Steve Niemela, Rogue District Wildlife Biologist. “We are happy to say the arrows were removed and these deer have a very good chance of survival.’”

“This is not ethical hunting, it’s a twisted act of poaching,” said Zach Lycett of the Rogue Valley Chapter of Oregon Hunter’s Association. “True ethical hunters respect the animals they hunt and are grateful for the opportunities to hunt. We do not stand for these kinds of criminal acts.”

I am going way out on a limb here and saying this vile act was caused by one or two young people, likely late teens to mid-20s, out for a sick thrill. I have reported on these type of incidents many times in the last 20 years–the criminals almost always turn out to be thrill-seeking young men who were not raised as hunters or archers. Why he or they would pull such a cruel act is beyond me, but he/they need to be caught and punished.

Authorities say this is the second time in as many years that deer have been illegally shot with arrows in this area. There is a reward for information on the person or people responsible.

Call the Oregon tip line at 800-452-7888.

New Jersey: Police Officer Performs C-Section On Doe, Saves Fawn

nj cop c sectionFrom CBS New York: “A resourceful police officer is being credited with saving the life of baby deer after its mother had been hit and killed in Warren County.”

Noticing movement inside the doe, Officer Jim Vernon sprung into action and performed a roadside C-section on the doe, saving the life of one of two fawns that the unfortunate doe carried.

Animal Control Officer Robert Lagonera then arrived on the scene, took the fawn home, warmed it up, and rubbed its chest to help get the little deer’s underdeveloped lungs working. The fawn is apparently doing well and awaiting its new home.

To these officers and to all their brothers and sisters in blue across the country, thank you for all you do every day!

Photo: Washington Township, Warren County police

Hunt Planner: Where to Get Over-the-Counter Elk Tags

elkNo. 1 on the bucket list for many readers of the BIG DEER blog, especially those who live east of the Mississippi, is to hunt elk. People ask me all the time, “Hanback, where should I go for elk?”

Most people who email me don’t want to spend a lot of time and money applying for an elk tag. While they would certainly love to shoot a big bull, most people I correspond with are not trophy hunters. They want to spend a reasonable amount of money for a license, go west for a week, experience all that the mountains and elk hunting have to offer, and stand a decent chance to get one.

If this sounds like you, the guys at BookYourHunt.com have put together information on where you can get an elk tag over the counter (OTC). While opportunities are limited, an OTC elk tag can be had.

Look to 3 states first: Colorado, Montana and Idaho.

In Colorado, OTC antlerless and either-sex tags are available for the archery season, and bull tags can be had for 2 of  the 4 rifle seasons in many areas. Also available are either-sex permits for some WMAs located in the plains.

In Idaho, home to some 107,000 elk, OTC tags are available in many general hunting units. Idaho is the last western state that most hunters think about, but it should be one of the first you consider for OTC elk.

While Montana has a March draw for elk tags, the state’s “leftover tag” program provides a good opportunity for non-residents. After the initial spring lottery drawing, if there are still tags left (usually there are) these tags are offered for OTC sale on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Many years I have purchased leftover elk and deer tags this way in Montana (I have one for the 2017 season in fact).  A leftover tag is good for either rifle or archery in many units across the state, but not in coveted trophy areas where only a few tags are issued each year.

You probably figured that  OTC elk hunting was not on option in the big-bull, draw states of Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah, and mostly that’s right. But BookYourHunt.com points out that Arizona and Wyoming sometimes offer limited OTC tags “in areas outside natural elk habitat” and where “success rates are very low.” This would be a tough, long-shot hunt, but at least you might be able to get a tag and go.

As for Utah and New Mexico, these states have landowner preference programs where ranchers and landowner/outfitters can obtain tags and sell them directly to their clients. This would essentially be an OTC tag purchase for you, though there is some paperwork involved.

You’re not getting any younger, and the older you get, the longer your bucket list grows.  While you might be able to squeak in a hunt in Colorado or Idaho this fall, now is the time to start planning your dream elk hunt for 2018.

Clinton’s Dismissive Anti-Hunting Remarks Offend All Sportsmen

hillary

Hillary Clinton was interrupted by a few animal rights protesters at a rally in Las Vegas last week. Secret Service agents rushed to her aid and the incident was diffused.

Clinton then joked that the kooky activists must have been there to protest Donald Trump. “Trump and his kids have killed a lot of animals,” she said. “Thank you for making that point.”

Hillary proceeded to screech that grating laugh, and the fawning crowd cheered wildly.

Well, I did not cheer when I heard those remarks on the radio. In 16 words, Hillary unabashedly trashed America’s 13 million hunters.

Not only were the remarks offensive and disrespectful to all sportsmen, in the literal sense “Trump and his kids” have shot a lot of game is just not true.  While Donald Jr. is a proud hunter and one of us—“If I could only choose one (type of hunting) I would have to say bowhunting for whitetails,” he said recently—I do not believe Eric, Ivanka and the others hunt and kill animals.

The only thing that matters is what the candidate says and does. While Donald Trump Sr. has stated openly that he does not hunt, he is on the record as saying that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director he appoints would “ideally be a hunter” and under his watch “there would be no sale of public Western lands.” Those are substantive pro-hunting positions.

Not surprisingly Hillary’s comments, which dripped with sarcasm, are reflective of what the Washington Elites think of us and our lifestyle. They laugh and smirk and dismiss us as a bunch of ignorant, gun-toting rednecks “that kill a lot of animals.”

Does Hillary realize, or care, that America’s hunters and fishermen fund nearly 75% of the annual income for all 50 state conservation agencies? Does she know, or care, that through license fees and excise taxes on firearms and gear, sportsmen contribute $200 million per year for wildlife conservation?

While I remain offended by Hillary Clinton’s dismissive anti-hunting remarks, as a gun-toting redneck that kills a lot of animals I am used to that type of talk.

The only thing that matters is that this presidential election will be the most important one ever regarding the Second Amendment. While hard to believe, Hillary is farther left than Obama on our right to own and carry firearms.

Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump, on guns and hunting the choice is clear.