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DNA test confirms animal killed was not coyote but endangered wolf — only the third identified in the wild in New York in 25 years

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State environmental officials said Thursday that recent tests confirmed that an animal killed during a coyote chase in upstate New York last year was a wolf.

The results reviewed this week contradict the initial analysis that concluded it was an eastern wolf, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Protection.

Environmental officials said it was only the third wolf identified in the wild in the state in 25 years. Wolves are protected in the state as an endangered species.

Officials said it was not known where the animal came from, but it was likely to be from the Great Lakes region, although the wolf population is not known to have spread outside Michigan.

They said it could be a captive animal that escaped or was released.

“Captive wolves that have been released into the wild in New York have been documented in the past,” the agency said.

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The wolf was killed in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, about 40 miles west of Albany. After experts who reviewed the initial DNA analysis concluded that it was a wolf, DNA provided by the hunter was sent to Princeton University for further testing, indicating that it was likely a wolf.

Coyotes are believed to have been extirpated from the northeast by the beginning of the 20th century, with the gap being filled by coyotes, which had become common in the area. However, many residents have reported seeing animals that they think resemble large wolves, and occasionally hearing howling.

Some advocates say wolves are found in New York and New England and could cross the frozen St. Lawrence River as they head south from Canada.

The New York Department of Conservation said it “will continue to work with federal, state and local partners to drive additional conservation measures to continue building a network of protected landscapes that provide a habitat for the state’s threatened and endangered species.”

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