Monday, August 1, 2022

DNA analysis confirms animal killed in New York state was a wolf

wolf trail cam

DNA analysis of an 85 pound canid shot by a New York hunter in December 2021, has verified the animal to have been a wolf.  The animal was killed in central New York and the hunter posted photos of the animal on social media.  At the time that it was killed, wolves had been removed from the federal Endangered Species list.  They have since been reinstated to the list after a successful lawsuit by wildlife advocates.

In a collaborative effort between the Northeast Ecological Recovery Society (NERS) and the Maine Wolf Coalition (MWC), the hunter graciously provided tissue samples of the animal for DNA analysis, some of which were sent by NERS at considerable expense to the Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  The DNA analysis was paid for by Protect the Adirondacks. We thank the hunter for his cooperation, without which we would not have gotten samples for analysis.  The findings concluded that the animal was effectively 100% wolf with DNA from Great Lakes wolves, Northwest Territories gray wolves and Eastern wolves, in decreasing order of DNA percentage.  The complex nature and purity of the wolf DNA may be consistent with a wild wolf that dispersed from Canada where various wolf populations are known to intermingle. 

It has long been wrongly believed that the St. Lawrence River and surrounding area serve as a barrier to wolf dispersal.  This animal is the latest of at least ten wolves known to have been killed south of the St. Lawrence River since 1993 which includes wolves killed in Day, New York in 2001 and Sterling, New York in 2005. Other wolves have been killed in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec.  MWC, through our own research, documented the first live Eastern wolf in Maine in through scat we collected in 2019. ine-after-scientists-test-dna

The presence of wolves in New York is to be expected, given the state’s proximity to documented wolf range in Canada and its abundant habitat and prey.  There are tens of thousands of square miles of potential wolf habitat in the northeast, much of it in New York, which makes the northeast ideal for wolf recovery.  In fact, wolves live just sixty miles from the New York border, a distance that a dispersing wolf could travel in a day or two.   

News release provided by the Northeast Ecological Recovery Society and Maine Wolf Coalition

Steve Hall photo from the Almanack archive

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75 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    Why did the hunter shoot it?

  2. Chris hildebrand says:

    Question: Are wolves in NY State supposed to be killed upon being randomly spotted?
    And are they hunted?

    • Dana says:

      Coyotes ARE actively hunted. Coyotes can be quite large, but not this large. Most hunters should be able to tell the difference. Moose were often “mistakenly” shot for deer when they began re-populating NYS. Tough to mix them up as well, but…

  3. Dan Vitale says:

    Affordable housing and diversity…since those worked so well in the cities? The top issues in the Adirondacks should be the preservation of the wild, and the integrity of our wonderful little communities. Keep the north woods safe from the ravages of human progress.

  4. Joy Keithline says:

    I do support wolf recovery in the Adirondack Park,
    especially to remain true to the “forever wild” edict.
    But I also do not want to see open season should they stray outside the blue line.

    Considering the natural balance of eco systems is long over due. Let’s start by valuing and respecting this magnificent creature; and allow this top predator to help maintain healthy forests, etc.

    • Tom Paine says:

      And farmer’s livestock on private property that borders or is in the Park? What happens there?

      • Boreas says:

        It doesn’t change the wolf’s protected status.

        A single wolf typically isn’t going to be any more of a threat to livestock than a coyote. They don’t require big prey. Just a quick meal on their way to find a mate – perhaps in a friendlier state.

        • Tom Paine says:

          Wolves and coyotes are pack animals. Where there is one, there is more. In western states they hunt animals a big as buffalo, elk, mule deer and cattle. They are will also kill and eat your domesticated family pets. Your right, they are not particular.

          • Boreas says:

            There are no wolf packs in NYS. You do understand that?? And even so, as I mentioned above, they are still protected.

            • Tom Paine says:

              And your proof of that?????

              • Paul says:

                Proof that something doesn’t exist? Isn’t this what we have been doing with Bigfoot for all these years. If we ever found one it would put a lot of Bigfoot hunters out of business, they are the last ones that want to find one! My point is that it is very difficult to prove a negative.

            • Mark Lewis says:

              In response to Boreas and Paul

              To quote Abraham Lincoln…

              “It is best to remain silent and have your peers assume your ignorance….

              As opposed to speaking… and removing all doubt….

          • Steve B. says:

            Western coyotes generally don’t hunt in packs. Eastern coyotes, which are known to have a fair percentage of wolf DNA, have been known to hunt in packs, but generally do not. The hiker killed in Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia many years ago, was apparently attacked by a coyote pack.

          • Steve B. says:

            Not necessarily. Individual male wolves have been known to cover vast distances in search of a mate, often times unsuccessfully. This is usually the reason a single wolf is spotted in an area where wolves are generally not seen. This was the case with a wolf shot in California last year, no pack was present. Individual wolves spotted in New York, New England and the Canadian Maritimes are often individuals that have migrated down from the north side of the St. Lawrence River, where there are known populations of wolves. There is a question as to whether there is a wolf population in New Brunswick.

            • AG says:

              True… same with cougars…. But didn’t wolves naturally move back into California a decade ago? Last I heard there were 2 packs in Northern California.

      • Joe Kozlina says:

        I am a farmer and I deal with animals and vermin every day. That comes with the job. We as humans need to share and live with the wildlife and stop controlling and killing and spraying the bugs, wildlife, and so called weeds into extinction.It seems to me we have almost won that battle because we now have more problems with our enviorment than ever before. Live with the natural world and share, not control the life. Since the locals have shot or trapped most of the coyote around me I am being over run by Raccoons, groundhogs and rabbits. I guess I should now decimate them also. Just being scarcastic.

        • Boreas says:


          I agree. Predators are just as important as prey in any healthy ecosystem. And note, this animal was shot by a hunter, not a farmer, although I suppose he could have been both.

          At some point, humans need to decide if they are for or against Nature and natural systems. We aren’t even close…

          • Paul says:

            Clearly the person thought they were shooting a coyote. He or she must have then realized due to its size that perhaps it was a wolf. Making the judgment is a hard call – it looks like a big coyote. Hunting for coyotes is perfectly legal in NYS and part of a managed wildlife program. Hunters have as much or more connection to ecosystems than anyone. They are ‘actively’ participating in the ecosystem. This person isn’t against nature – far from it in my opinion. I thank the person for helping us figure this out.

            • Boreas says:

              How he came to shoot the animal is pure speculation. My statement cast no judgement on his actions. But I would rather see wolves limiting coyote populations – but that isn’t likely to happen in the East.

              • Joe Kozlina says:

                I agree with wolves doing the natural balance. So why cant that happen in the east? Its what the ADK needs. How many more wolves have been shot under these same circumstances and not been reported?

                • Boreas says:


                  It’s not that it can’t happen in the East, but there is murderous automobile traffic now that was not present when big predators were persecuted to the point of extirpation from the area. Combine this certain road mortality with even minimal persecution and you don’t have favorable conditions for a stable population. But we can always hope.

              • Paul says:

                True – it is speculation, but I suspect that if he was hunting and shot it knowing that it was a wolf the DEC might have pressed some charges. I have seen coyotes as large as 60-70 pounds in the Adirondacks so this would be a pretty easy mistake to make. But maybe he/she shot it knowing somehow that it was a wolf in place that basically has no wolves? Apparently the person put it on Facebook. That is where a “wolf” person saw it. Maybe the person commented on FB about what they were thinking. But I stand corrected I am speculating.

            • AG says:

              Along with habitat destruction hunters managed to decimate wildlife populations of numerous species… Laws and regulations are what stopped the complete destruction.

        • Tony says:

          Its sad the ignorance and lack of education these people have in regards to wildlife and nature in general!

  5. Bob kibbey says:

    Well said, Joy.

  6. Marianne says:

    WHERE in the Adirondack Park was this wolf shot? The article only states the wolf was shot in, “Central NY.” Since, “Protect The Adirondacks” got involved, I’m assuming the wolf was in the Adirondacks. Why the secrecy?

    • Pat B says:

      In the 1st paragraph the article says central New York.

      • JohnL says:

        It said ‘Near Albany’ and ‘Greater Albany Area’ in a couple Duckduckgo search articles. Not sure why they’d call Albany ‘Central New York’ but that’s a question for another time. In any event, it doesn’t sound very Adirondacky to me.

    • Paul says:

      It wasn’t in the Adirondacks, it seems like several people missed this despite the fact that is says that.

  7. Tony says:

    Another example of a nut job in public forests to quick on the trigger not really knowing what they are shooting at… This is why the laws need to be strengthen to protect wildlife that belongs to all!

    • wbb says:

      And you know this, how? There is no mention of the shooters state of mind or the location where the animal was shot, So I’m not sure how you know it was a “nut job” or on “public forests.” If you have this insider information please share so we can all better form our opinions as to what happened.

  8. tony says:

    We need to take wildlife management out of the hunters and special interest groups hands. They are incapable of effectively managing wildlife. But then of course they will lose that right to say “yeah my bullet I purchase goes to fund these animals I kill”.
    Wildlife belongs to all! And my tax dollars trickle into DEC and into BOW!

    • Paul says:

      So you are suggesting we go back to commercial hunting, or maybe have the government hire the shooters?

    • JohnL says:

      I disagree Tony. Hunters and trappers have been effectively ‘managing wildlife’ for many decades by their participation in legal hunting and trapping, where bag limits and seasons are set by Wildlife experts with the control of ‘herd’ populations in mind. Further, most hunters, myself included, are aware that the money we spend on our sport is going to a good cause, but we don’t brag about it.

      • Boreas says:

        I agree. I would prefer to see more large predators helping control both prey and the need for human “controls”. But I don’t see big cats and wolves coming back any time soon because of perils from many sources. Until then, hunting will definitely be necessary, albeit not as “natural” as many would like.

  9. Walter Paul says:

    This story is fake news promulgated by center for biodiversity. Sources cited re validating DNA have no credibility.

    Phoney baloney!!

  10. William D says:

    This is a misleading article. All dogs have the same DNA as a wolf.

    • JT says:

      Dogs and Wolves share 98.8% of the same DNA.
      It’s that 1.2% difference that makes a dog a dog and wolf a wolf.

  11. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Robert says: “Why did the hunter shoot it?”

    Human nature Robert! We’re natural born killers! Always have been always will I imagine.

    • JohnL says:

      Hey Charlie. Do you begrudge the wolf for killing the deer or the rabbit? He’s the ultimate ‘natural born killer’.

      • Charlie Stehlin says:

        No! The human animal is the ultimate natural born killer John! The wolf kills to survive.

        • JohnL says:

          Good to know Charlie. Was wondering why you begrudge humans for hunting and killing the food we eat when we (humans) have been doing just that for 100+ millenia. Just curious.

          • Charlie Stehlin says:

            I most certainly am in the habit of begrudging society JohnL, and rightly so, but where did I say I begrudge humans for hunting?

            • JohnL says:

              I guess that would be because pretty much everything you write is dripping with disdain for us in the general population and how we conduct our daily lives. However, if you tell me that you’re in favor of the legal hunting and shooting of animals, I’ll take you at your word and grant that I was mistaken…..on that particular subject.

              • Todd Eastman says:

                Not many eat wolf…

                … but I’m sure you’ve eaten crow…🤣

                • JohnL says:

                  You and Charlie a tag team now TE? I was just asking HIM if he approves of hunting and shooting animals. Pretty simple… me.
                  And yes, I have eaten crow occasionally. You??

                  P.S. Man throughout history has killed wolves and other large predators mainly to keep the wolves from harming them, their loved ones, their livestock, etc etc. I can’t say what they did with the carcasses. Maybe they ate them.

                  • AG says:

                    Even ancient Mongols understood that even though they did kill some wolves – they could not kill all the wolves because the wolf preying on wild animals was essential to keep the grasslands healthy. It’s amazing – huh? They didn’t need a government seminar to tell them that. They simply observed what happened if they killed too many wolves. Wolves never went extinct there like it did in most of the US

          • Rob says:

            So animals kill to survive.. and humans are animals… careful where you go with this

      • AG says:

        So this guy was planning to eat the coyote?

  12. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “The findings concluded that the animal was effectively 100% wolf with DNA from Great Lakes wolves…”

    Interesting! To think if there were far less humans, and more wilderness, or more green corridors, how much more of a chance the wild kind could have. They have notta chance as it stands. To think if there were no laws whatsoever, and everyone had free reign just like it was in the 1800’s!

    • William D says:

      Bs it’s not a wolf. N you have no idea what you are saying. Even the Indians didn’t like wolves. They are killing machines. They kill grizzlies with no problem. They were eradicated for a reason! If wolves were in NY. You would have no moose. Very few dear. The impact would be so disgusting you would weep. No more nature. Bye bye pet’s.livestock ect. I seen a elk in the city of Rochester running down the street. If I wrote a article about it and put a picture of a elk running down a city street does that make it true?

      • AG says:

        Absolute nonsense. Isle Royal in Michigan just had to add wolves because they died off due to climate change prevent new wolves from reaching the island. The moose population got too large and many moose died from starvation because without wolves they ate everything in sight. Many others died slow and torturous deaths from bugs draining their blood. Now that wolves are back the ecosystem is more healthy again. The moose population has dropped – but the moose that live now are much healthier.. That’s how ecosystems work.

  13. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Tom Paine says: “In western states they hunt animals a big as buffalo, elk, mule deer and cattle. They will also kill and eat your domesticated family pets.”

    Yeah, but they were here long before there was sucha thing as domesticated family pet’s Tom. If pet owners were more responsible…! Wolves have been cursed ever since the white man came along. The Indians too! Our track record is horrible and yet our super-ego remains the same!

  14. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Joe Kozlina says: “Since the locals have shot or trapped most of the coyote around me I am being over run by Raccoons, groundhogs and rabbits.”

    There’s a lot to be said about that Joe, the very least of which is…..coyotes serve a purpose as all living things on this planet do. The general populace, which is most, will never come to that.

  15. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Boreas says: “humans need to decide if they are for or against Nature and natural systems. We aren’t even close…”

    As I always say Boreas….with humans it’s about the image in the mirror.

  16. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Its sad the ignorance and lack of education these people have in regards to wildlife and nature in general!”

    It’s sad indeed the horrors we induce,
    As if purpose, art, and beauty does not fit all,
    As if nothing is solid all is loose,
    As if nothing should be left standing all should fall!

    Tis not I who aims to see it crumble,
    I love life and all living things contained within,
    As if by design me to be humble,
    While others feed on apathy, horrors and sin.

  17. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Walter Paul says: “DNA have no credibility.”

    Yep, this is why people who committed horrible crimes decades ago, and left DNA behind, face retribution decades later. Right Walter?

  18. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Walter Paul says: “This story is fake news promulgated by center for biodiversity. Sources cited re validating DNA have no credibility. ”

    William D says: “I agree 100 percent.”

    > A magnetic field, charged particles forming mutuality. As shavings of steel and a magnet, like minds attract. Wrong is right to some, science is sacred to others. Whom do we put our faith in? A narcissist head of state who concocted “fake news” to get one over on a flock of seagulls, or a man, or woman, with a microscope whom goes beyond the surface? It’s not all relative and opposites don’t always attract. Matter of fact there’s always the other side of the coin….

    I am not for certain if the photo that comes with the narrative above is relative to the same, but if it is, my eyesight isn’t all that off as yet, and I’m here to say that certainly isn’t a dog, nor is a pussycat.

  19. Cheryl croft says:

    Wolves must be on endangered species list,there must be a hefty fine and at least a year for harming any ,they are few sadly, and they are important for many reasons,

  20. Johnny says:

    I’m from the area that he hunts, and I hunt, there are some coyotes that get very big around here. And in any way, this animal being taken and not sighted gives us hard evidence that the state cannot deny.

  21. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “This story is fake news…”

    I’ve heard this somewhere else! There used to be a time when science was a priority in this great country of ours, or it was high on the list of ‘musts’ so far as the way we did business. Even lawyers had to know science back in the day 200 years ago. The history is there and there’s no denying it, yet there’s a school which won’t let truth in, even when it comes a-knocking at their doors! If New York State said they did DNA testing on this animal, and that “this animal was effectively 100% wolf with DNA from Great Lakes wolves” why would they lie about it? What would they gain by lying? It’s not like there’s political gain or any thing of that sort, where lying through their teeth would be par for the course. It’s good to have doubts but to deny science….that’s a whole new ballgame, and one which we have been feeling the effects of for what… six-plus years now?

    • Boreas says:


      Well said. It is easy to call something fake. Anyone can do it! It is much more difficult to prove a study or animal is fake. And as you say – what would be the motivation to fake the DNA results?

  22. Mark Lewis says:

    Great information!!!

  23. Paul says:

    It’s a wolf. There is a link to the analysis. That is a lot of trouble to go to if it isn’t legit. Lots of actors all conspiring to prove to us there is a lone wolf out there…. Give me a break. It sounds like these things occasionally make it down here. This is the same thing. End of story.

  24. Mark J Valin says:

    I’m sure there are wolf population throughout the state of NY. I am also a hunter and live in WNY. We have a huge coyote population so I know the difference. Just in my small town I’ve seen what I believe to be wolves on several occasions. Even walked on top of a den and a few minutes later she came out. Wasn’t more than 10 yards from me and she never looked at me. I was dressed in camp. Pretty cool.

    • Steve B. says:

      I don’t think this is accurate. I have never read of any breading wolf packs anywhere in NY. This would be big news if it were the case. You are likely mistaking coyotes for wolves, but know that eastern coyotes get pretty big and its an easy mistake.

  25. Nathan says:

    Coydogs can be very large depending on cross breed. over the years i have shot a few that were 65-75 pounds eating cows they had killed on farms in a pack. much bigger than a german shepard. some packs can become very destructive to calves, sometimes cows. so a wolf would would be close in size and easily mistaken for a coyote/coydog.

  26. Bobbie says:

    It was a grey wolf. Princeton University confirmed its identity by another round of DNA analysis. Hunters need to be educated on the differences between wolves and coyotes BEFORE being allowed to shoot them. Wolves are a lot larger than coyotes and the dead one was 85 lbs. Hunters should be fined for killing endangered wolves. If they cannot tell the difference, stop shooting them. NYS needs to get its collective head out of the sand.

    • Joe Kozlina says:

      The states will never get it. We decimated the buffalo at the hands of the govt. We lost most beaver at the hands of our govt. Wolves mostly gone at the hands of our govt. Native americans pushed to extinction by the hands of our govt. We are the govt so what to do? Hunting and trapping laws are so archaic for the present that its need an overhaul. I dont have all the answers but just look around and we will see the natural world is out of balance.

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