A gray wolf was shot and killed in Iowa, which is a state where wolves are protected. A gray wolf has not been reported in the state since the last recorded sighting of the animal in 1925. This is the first recorded sighting of this species in 89 years, making this a rare event.
According to the Guardian on May 14, the hunter mistook the wolf for a coyote, which is an animal that is legal to hunt in Iowa. The unnamed hunter realized that his kill was not a coyote when he got up closer to the dead animal he had just shot.
Upon further inspection, the hunter believed he had just shot a rare gray wolf and he brought the carcass to the Manchester Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office. After a DNA test and an examination by biologists at the DNR, it was confirmed that this animal was indeed a gray wolf.
No charges were brought against the hunter, who authorities believe shot the wolf by mistake. He had been cooperating fully with authorities and he was the one to step forward with the wolf to report he had shot it. This wolf was killed by the hunter back in February near Fairbanks, but the confirmation of the DNA test was just revealed. The animal was a healthy female weighing about 65 -70 lbs.
The last valid wolf record for the state was in the 1884-1885 winter in Butler County, where this wolf was killed. According to the Huffington Post, the experts were not surprised to hear of the gray wolf in Iowa, considering there is a population in neighboring states. Minnesota has the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states and Wisconsin has an ample population of these animals.
Recent sightings of black bears and mountain lions, which were last spotted in the state decades ago, suggests that these animals are also returning. The gray wolf, along with the other larger predators left the area decades ago as the state became more populated. It could be that the population in other states are driving them back.