It's a rare sight in Missouri - a hunter shot what he thought was a coyote and it turns out it may be a timber wolf.
The animal was found in Howard County.
A warning to viewers: some may find the images graphic in nature.
Agents at the Missouri Department of Conservation said more than likely the animal is a wolf even though their research shows no breeding patterns in the state of Missouri for wolves.
The hunter whose bow and arrow ended the life of the 80-pound animal near Boonville, MO, Tuesday told investigators he thought it was a coyote. Wildlife Regional Supervisor John George believes it was an honest mistake.
"Most people in Missouri are going to have some frequency of occurrence with coyotes, they're quite common. With wolves, the majority of the time it's probably somebody's large dog that they're seeing," said John George with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The hunter reported his kill to the department of conservation officials who then turned it over to the science division for testing. DNA samples were collected and the animal's corpse was stored in a freezer. George let KCTV5's Dave Jordan have a closer look and gave some insight on why he believes it's is not a coyote.
"I would expect a coyote to never be much bigger than about half of this overall," he said. "Forty pounds is a good size, actually. Most of the time they're going to weigh less than 40 pounds."
George said the incident underscores the need for hunters to learn more about the hunting laws as it applies to those species.
"You don't have the authority to kill a mountain lion or timber wolves just because it's there. You do have the ability to protect yourself," he said.
Investigators said it could take three to six months for the DNA test results to come back and mostly likely confirm what they already suspect.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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