A black wolf-like animal killed on private land near Brusette on Sept. 1, 2007 was a wolf-dog cross, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials said today.
The hybrid animal was killed on private land nearly a year ago where USDA Wildlife Services confirmed two sheep were killed by a wolf or wolf-like canid last summer. Ten other sheep deaths were investigated on a nearby ranch at that time, but the carcasses were too old to determine cause of death.
A tissue sample from the hybrid animal was sent to the University of California at Los Angeles for genetic testing to determine if it was related to the northern Rocky Mountain wild wolf population or if was a product of a private captive breeding situation.
The same laboratory previously confirmed that a large captively-bred wolf was responsible for killing about 100 sheep in Garfield and McCone counties in 2006. That animal had a mixture of genes not found in naturally-occurring wild wolf populations.
Tissue samples from the suspect animals from both the 2006 and the 2007 incidents were tested at the UCLA lab, where they were compared to all North American wild wolf populations, coyotes, domestic dogs, and wolf-dog hybrids.
“Lab techniques have gotten a lot better in the past year and more detailed analyses are possible,” said Carolyn Sime, FWP Wolf Program Coordinator. “This year, the genetic experts were able to confirm from the 2007 sample that the attacking animal was a wolf–dog hybrid, but we still don’t know where it came from or who the owner might have been,” she said.
Montana law requires that any captive, domestic, or hybrid wolf that is more than half wolf to be permanently tattooed and registered with FWP. State law also requires that any escape, release, transfer, or other change in disposition of such animals be reported to FWP. Financial liability for property damage caused by these animals is the responsibility of the owner.
"There were no permanent markings or tattoos on this animal, which are required by law," said FWP Warden Captain Mike Moore, in Miles City.
Anyone with information is urged to call Montana's violation hotline at 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).
A recent federal court decision reinstated Endangered Species Act protection for wild wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. Federal law once again guides Montana’s management of its population.
As a result of the decision, the line that once divided Montana’s wolf population as a “non-essential experimental” population in the southern half of the state, and an “endangered” population to the north, has also been reinstated by the court.
Endangered wolves in northern Montana cannot be hazed, harassed, or killed by livestock owners or other private citizens. Experimental wolves in southern Montana can be hazed or harassed, or killed if seen actively chasing, or attacking livestock or domestic dogs on either public or private land. The incident must be reported to FWP within 24 hours.To learn more about Montana’s wolf population and the federal regulations, visit FWP online at www.fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf, where visitors can tell FWP when they see wolves or wolf sign. The information helps verify the activity, distribution, and pack sizes of Montana’s wolf population.