Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) revealed the identity of the mysterious wolf-like creature that was shot dead in the state last month. Officials confirmed in a news release Monday that DNA results proved the animal was a gray wolf.
“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," the statement read.
Montana FWP officials initially weren’t certain what the creature was when a rancher fatally shot it on his property.
The wildlife agency spoke about the beast, which it said had "captured the curiosity of the nation."
"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," the agency explained Monday.
Officials said an inspection of the animal at its laboratory “revealed a relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf.”
Adding, the wolf weighed 84.5 pounds and was around 2 to 3 years old.
“The wolf was a non-lactating female, which means she didn’t have a litter of pups,” they explained, noting that “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.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service geneticist Mary Curtis said it’s not unusual for there to be physical variations of animals within a species.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.