Des Moines, Iowa — Remember when a hunter in Osceola County last December shot a canine thinking it was a coyote, and then thought maybe it was a wolf? The DNR says it did turn out to be a wolf.
A couple of large canines that were shot this winter by hunters in northwest and southeast Iowa have tested positive as wolves, which are protected under law as endangered species. Vince Evelsizer, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says both hunters thought they were shooting coyotes.
The wolves were shot in Osceola and Van Buren Counties. According to Evelsizer, the wolves likely wandered into Iowa from the Great Lakes population in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. More wolves have been spotted in Iowa in recent years.
Iowa’s coyote hunting season is open all year long, but participation is often highest in January and February. Last year, hunters in Iowa killed just under 14,000 coyotes. Evelsizer is asking hunters to make sure they know the difference between a coyote and wolf. While they are similar in color, wolves are 5-6 feet long from nose to tail and weigh 50-100 pounds. Coyotes are shorter in length and weigh 35-40 pounds.
No charges are being filed against the two hunters, as investigators determined both cases were accidents and the hunters immediately contacted the DNR.
The two wolves that were shot will be used for education outreach at the local county conservation boards.