New York Officials: DNA Confirms Wolf Killed in 2021

Tests confirmed that a New York hunter killed a wolf in 2021, state officials said, the third one killed in the past 25 years.

New York Officials: DNA Confirms Wolf Killed in 2021

A wild canine shot by a New York hunter has been determined to be a wolf via DNA testing. Photo:

DNA tests confirmed that a licensed New York hunter killed a wolf during the 2021 coyote season, state officials said. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials confirmed an animal killed by a hunter in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, was a wolf. 

Initial DNA analysis completed in summer 2022 determined the wild canid to be most closely identified as an Eastern coyote. The hunter voluntarily submitted DNA for further analysis to Dr. Bridgett vonHoldt, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, as part of a joint research effort by multiple parties. DEC experts reviewed the vonHoldt DNA test results on Sept. 21, 2022, and determined the species is likely a male wolf. DEC is also evaluating additional steps to determine whether further research is needed. This is the third confirmed wolf identified in the wild in New York in the past 25 years. Wolves are, and continue to be, protected in New York State as an endangered species

The origin of the Otsego County animal is unknown. DNA tests indicate it is most likely from the Great Lakes population of wolves, which currently have no established populations in any adjacent state and no known wolves closer than Michigan. It is unknown if this animal was a wild animal that moved into New York or if this was a captive-bred animal that was released or escaped. Captive wolves released into the wild in New York have been documented in the past. 

At present, the natural recolonization of wolves in New York is unlikely. For a pack of wolves to be established in the state, breeding populations of female wolves would need to return to the state and breed with male wolves, which typically roam farther from their packs. DEC will monitor for additional signs of wolf presence and encourages the public to report sightings of unusually large animals. 

The most recent DNA results provided by Dr. vonHoldt and the earlier DNA results provided by Dr. Jane Huffman with the Wildlife Genetics Institute can be found at the DEC’s website.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.