Last week, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced that DNA testing confirmed an animal shot by a hunter last February near Fairbank was indeed a wolf — the first documented wolf in the state since 1925.
The animal was a healthy female that weighed between 65 and 70 pounds, according to Vince Evelsizer, DNR furbearer specialist. He said the DNA strands resembled the genetic background of wolves in Minnesota and Wisconsin — two neighboring states currently managing wolf hunting seasons.
“I was surprised but not that surprised,” Evelsizer said. “Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them,”
Iowa was once home to the Great Plains wolf and the gray (timber) wolf, but bounties and settlers who considered the predator a threat drove them from the state. Researchers conclude Iowa’s last wolf died in the winter of 1884-1885. It’s unknown whether a wolf shot in 1925 was wild or escaped from captivity.
The animal remains protected as a designated furbearer under Iowa’s state code. The hunter, who remains anonymous, believed the animal was a large coyote at first. The DNR declined to issue a citation because the hunter took the animal to the DNR office in Manchester and essentially went out of the way to cooperate with officers. The DNR cautions other hunters to be sure of their target before shooting.