Massachusetts "wolf" of last October was indeed a wolf

First wolf found in Mass. in 160 years. By Beth Daley, Boston Globe Staff

Update: Here is a more detailed story. Boston Globe. 





  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    I find this a fascinating story.

    It amazes me how far wolves can disperse and it goes to show how much ground a wolf can travel. Think of all of those wolf tracks left behind and compare that to what you see when in wolf country. It is easy to get the impression that there are many more wolves than there are if you were to just go by how many tracks and other sign you can see. When I look for sign I nearly always find some but generally I have a good idea of the number of wolves in an area and I compare that to my observations. Compare that to mountain lions where you hardly ever see sign even though the numbers are higher than that of wolves. Also compare that to grizzlies where you see sign but the dispersal distances are rarely long distance. Even black bear sign is sparse (except during salmon runs) compared to wolves even though their numbers are 20 for every wolf in Idaho. I think that wolves just leave more visible tracks than other predators and they leave it in more visible places.

    I hope that this wolf wasn’t the only one in Massachusetts and I hope that more start to use the New England area.

  2. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    Fascinating indeed…….Also that he made it down to Massachusetts. One would have exptected a wolf would feel quite comfortable in the deep woods of New Hampshire or Vermont. Too bad that he couldn´t resist to grab those sheep.
    Sad end for this traveler.

  3. Jon Way Avatar

    Too bad that eastern coyotes and eastern wolves look so similar except for size differences, because all northeast states (like everywhere else in the country) have a pathetic lack of regulation on the slaughter allowed on eastern coyotes. One of my coyotes on Cape Cod genetically tested to be almost pure red wolf (or eastern wolf) and could legally be shot 5.5 months a year in MA.
    Until states do more to protect eastern coyotes in the NE don’t except wolves to come back here, even though I (among others) would love to see that.
    Jon Way

  4. Jon Way Avatar

    sorry that should say ” don’t expect (not except) wolves to come back here.”

  5. John Glowa Avatar
    John Glowa

    This only confirms what I believed and publicly stated from the moment that I heard that the animal had been killed. How many more wolves have to be killed here before the state and federal governments give wolves in the northeast the real protection that they are legally entitled to? I and three others petitioned the USFWS to “regulate the commerce and taking” of coyotes, wolf/coyote hybrids, and eastern wolves here in the northeast due to the continued killing of wolves allegedly mistaken for coyotes. To date they have taken no action. Neither the state nor federal governments are taking any substantive action to locate other wolves here in the northeast. Neither the state nor federal governments are attempting to determine the true status of wolves, how they arrrived here or where they came from. This animal was killed only 80 miles from where a wolf was killed in New York State in 2001. It should have come as no surprise to the state and federal fish and wildlife agencies that a wolf might be in this area. There are several tragedies here, but one is the fact that a state biologist told the farmer it was okay to shoot the wolf after apparently assuming that it was either a dog or hybrid. I have asked the State of Massachusetts about their handling of this issue and have received no response. Make no mistake about it, wolves are here, they are being killed more frequently and their range is increasing. It’s time for the USFWS and state fish and wildlife agencies to pull their heads out of their behinds.

  6. Jon Way Avatar

    unfortunately, I believe it will take environmental groups to sue the fed. gov’t to force them to take action.
    Once, when the western wolf lawsuits are settled hopefully that will happen.

  7. John Glowa Avatar
    John Glowa

    There is a longer version of this article also available at The article contains false information including a claim by the federal government that the last known wolf in the northeast was killed in Maine in 1993. In fact, the last known wolf killed in the northeast was in Vermont in October 2006. Other wolves have been killed in the northeast in Vermont, New York and Maine since 1993 that the evidence did not prove had been bred in or released/escaped from captivity. These were healthy animals that had been living in the wild. The article also falsely gives the impression that the existence of this wolf in Massachusetts was an anomaly. Some weeks before this article was published, I provided the author with documentation of prior wolves killed in the northeast, including one killed just 80 miles away, but none of that was referred to in the article. The article is just the latest successful attempt by the government to spin the press and the public by providing false, misleading and incomplete information about the presence of wolves in the northeast.

  8. Ken Grey Avatar
    Ken Grey

    Hi Folks! Today’s Bangor Daqily News has a report of a confirmed wolf killing in the area of Springfield,Mass. I too am astounded at the resiliancy of the wolf in making its way down from the Laurentian section of Quebec to again ocdcupy New England. A couple of years ago there were articles in the Manchester Union Leader about repeated sightings in Errol or Stark,NH and an expert woodsman friend of mine reported having seen one in Lincoln,NH.

  9. PC Avatar


    Glad you noticed the missing information in this article about many confirmed wolves killed in upstate NY and Vermont in the last 15 years. One was shot 4 years ago in the Adirondacks (still trying to find the article) it was confirmed a wolf, not a hybrid or dog. I grew up in the Adirondacks and wolf sightings would be very rare since that park is so dense and 3 times the size of YNP. Wolf reintroduction into the Adirondacks would be great except it would need to be done in force with many animals to prevent wolf-coyote hybrids. The St. Lawerence seaway creates a natural barrier that could prevent wolf gene pools from staying healthy in the Northeast. All that said I am all for wolf reintroduction in the Adirondacks. The proper planning could make reintroduction a great success.

  10. John Glowa Avatar
    John Glowa

    The NY wolf you write about was killed in Day, NY in December 2001. A reported wolf was killed by an automobile in NY in 1968. The skull of the latter animal is in the Smithsonian and to my knowledge, its DNA has never been checked. Another wolf was killed in Sterling, NY up near Lake Ontario a couple of years ago but it may have been a released captive. DNA tests of that animal showed a combination of Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain wolf DNA. There are a handful of other reports of dead wolves in NY beginning in the 1950’s. One was killed by a NY game warden who burned the carcass in an incinerator (this was long before wolves were federally protected). People should not assume that the St. Lawrence River is a barrier to wolf dispersal. Lynx, moose and fisher have crossed the river and in fact, fisher from NY have recolonized southern Ontario. There’s no evidence that wolf reintroduction is needed. There’s also no evidence that the St. Lawrence River will pose a problem with wolf genetics. The problem for years has been biological and political pundits who have been making assumptions about wolf recovery in the northeast without benefit of facts. We need some real science here. We need a real effort to look for wolves. If regular folks can find them with their automobiles, guns and traps, then biologists/researchers should be able to find them, as well. We have at least eight DNA documented wolves killed here south of the St. Lawrence since 1993. Someone (government or private sector) needs to take these puzzle pieces and start putting together this puzzle to find out what we have here, where they came from, how they got here and their relationship (if any) to each other. We are seeing wolves that have both eastern/Algonquin wolf and Great Lakes wolf ancestry. We are also seeing wolves that are much larger than the typical Algonquin wolf. Why? As I said, we’ve had too many assumptions. Let’s have some real, unbiased science.

  11. Justin Avatar

    Does anyone know what population it originated? All I’ve heard is eastern gray wolf, which is an incredibly vague term. Was it Algonquin/red wolf, Great Lakes wolf, or pure gray wolf from north Ontario? John Way, have you heard anything?

  12. Jon Way Avatar

    No, Justin I don’t know the origin of this animal. Sorry. And I doubt anyone would tell me specially, anyway, to tell you the truth. Why discuss it with one of the people actually researching wild canids in the NE…

  13. Susan Avatar

    I live in Western Massachusetts, at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains, and about forty minutes from Springfield. There are fabulous woods and forests in my area. Is this to suggest that in addition to fox, coyote, cougar, and bear, there may be wolves in my area now? Even just a few brave, lone travelers? That would be…really interesting.

  14. John Glowa Avatar
    John Glowa

    Interesting that the feds referred to the Mass. animal as an “eastern gray wolf”. From a legal perspective, there is no such thing. Do they mean that it was a hybrid of an eastern wolf and a gray wolf? Wolves that we are getting here in the northeast are typically just that-some with a little coyote thrown for good measure. We have a FOIA request in for the feds file on this animal. So far our request has been denied citing the fact that there is still an ongoing investigation into an ESA violation. Typically when wolves are killed here in the northeast, we ask for and receive the DNA test results. They usually cite wolf populations that the DNA indicate the animal may have come from. I believe the feds have a problem with their reference source material, however. If it is too limited or wrong, their identification of the source of the wolf will be wrong. The USFWS needs to take a close look at its database of wolf DNA and update it to insure that ithey are making proper identifications, especially given the fairly recent revelations that the “eastern wolf” is likely a different species. When we receive the DNA report from the USFWS on the Mass. animal, I’ll be glad to post relevant info. on this website.

  15. Justin Avatar

    Thanks for the help Jon and John

    I don’t think the USFWS could have used a more vague and inaccurate term to describe this animal. I’ll be talking with some people in the coming weeks who may be able to provide some answers. They never said it was a hybrid, just a pure wolf, but not did not specify a type.

  16. Al Avatar

    I have a vacation home in Schoharie County NY and this past Friday evening at 645 pm I observed a large wolf or wolf hybrid in my garbage burn pit. The animal was startled when I pulled up in my car and jumped out of the pit, he then to my surprise ran towards me and only stopped when I yelled at it. it then starred at me for several moments and slowly walked away all the while looking back at me. I had to yell several more times to force him away into the woods. I have been hunting and traveling to this area of NY ( northern Catskill mountains). I have never seen anything like this before, I’ve seen many animals over the years and I know enough to say that this was no dog nor coyote. the tracks measured 4 in length and 3.25 inches in width. I measured multiple tracks to confirm the measurements. I called my local Environmental office who was very quick to discredit my observations, he told me I probably saw a eastern coyote? when I told him the size of the tracks the animal made his response was ” anything is possible” . My home is in a very remote area with over 12,000 acres of state land, it’s a perfect environment for wolves or hybrid wolves to live. I hope to see it again soon and have my camera ready this time. I am encouraged by all these confirmed wolf sightings and confirmed kills of wolves in the Northeast, and am hopeful that wolves will make the Northeast there new or re-newed home as nature intended!

  17. Linda Avatar

    I think Mass is behind in enviromental updates and safe the wildlife…why kill a lone wolf we have not had here in years? killing will not makes us understand anything about the animal or why it came here. All we can do is suppect why? why didn’t they shoot it with a camera first and send it in to envirmenatlists? unless the wolf was hrming a human or attacking one kiling it just brings us back 160 years……of stupidity.

  18. Linda Avatar

    Shelbone Mass had a stray lone wolf that they killed out of stupidity.

  19. Sue K Avatar
    Sue K

    I live in Hampden Mass. I’ve heard weird sounds in the woods for several weeks. We’ve had coyote packs in the woods for years but lastnight I awoke to a lone howl that was like nothing I’d ever heard in this area. I’m convinced it was a wolf but have no proof. We have lots of deer, turkeys, coyotes and recent sighting of a mother bear and 2 cubs so why not? Is there anyone I can contact with my information who would follow up in the area?

  20. Barb Avatar

    Sue K — What is the issue?

    Hopefully it WAS a wolf! Why would you have to “follow up?” Are you concerned for your safety? Wolves are not like in the fairy tales, Little Red Riding Hood. They are like any wild animal though and can and will attack if they feel threatened.

  21. Mark H Avatar

    I live Melrose, MA and while driving last evening I saw what I first thought was a coyote. It ran across the street then stopped for on the other side of the street. I had a great look for over a minute. I have been looking at pictures all day and truly believe it was a wolf and not a coyote based on size and color. It left tracks in the snow. Is there anyway to tell a coyote print from a wolf print?

  22. Sheila Duquette Avatar
    Sheila Duquette

    Hi, I live in Monson MA and my husband and I saw an Eastern Wolf in our area, near homes. Beautiful animal. We looked up on the Web to see exactly what type of animal it was. It was exciting to see him.

  23. Salle Avatar

    Here is a link to the official USWFS flyer on recognizing a wolf and how to tell one from a coyote.

    There is more info available on the home page.

  24. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Where in Melrose did you see it? I have studied eastern coyotes in and around the Mt. Hood golf course in Melrose. What you saw was probably and eastern coyote.

  25. Salle Avatar

    For the Red Wolf info and to report one, if you have seen one. Bu Fazio is the director of the program:

  26. terri Avatar

    jan 2009 i was the passenger in a car on i95 north that hit what i am sure was a wolf.

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Is that in Massachusetts?

    If so, my guess it was a coyote. Our eastern coyote expert, Jon Way, has written a book about the very big eastern coyotes.

  28. terri Avatar

    it was in massachusetts; somewhere between natick and route 3. i wouldn’t dispute an expert but i have to say that i’ve spent a lot of time looking at images — and have seen living wolves up at a zoo in NH; the animal i saw didn’t have the slight/shapely build that i see in images of coyotes. i was sitting in the passenger seat of a car (not suv) and i was able to easily see him thru the driver’s window and it was not a petite animal at all. everything about him was large and powerful and massive (and the most beautiful thing i’ve seen in years!!!!) i wont say its impossible but i would be surprised if it was pure coyote – perhaps a hybrid?

  29. John Glowa Avatar
    John Glowa

    Last March I said I’d let folks know when we got the DNA results of the Massachusetts wolf. These are the examination results contained in the Genetics Examination Report for Agency Case #2007505077.

    “Canid Species Identification by Mitochondrial DNA
    The mtDNA sequence of LAB-1 is identical to the mtDNA of North American gray wolf reference standards found throughout North America.

    Canid Species Identification by Nuclear DNA
    The STR genotype of LAB-1 is unlike that of gray wolves from western North America (Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana and Yellowstone National Park), Mexican wolves, domestic dogs and wolf-dog hybrids. Although it was similar to gray wolves from the Great Lakes region of the United States, the analysis indicates that the individual from LAB-1 did not originate there. Rather, its similarity to both eastern gray wolves and eastern coyotes suggest that it is from a population not represented in the database (e.g., gray wolves from southern Ontario or Quebec).

    The Y-STR genotype of LAB-1 is characteristic of male gray wolves found throughout North America.

    The individual represented by LAB-1 is an eastern gray wolf (Canis lupus lycaon).”

  30. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wow, John.

    Thanks for the news!!

  31. Janet Parks Avatar
    Janet Parks

    This morning we (my husband, daughter and I) spotted a wolf in the field behind our house. It was about 400-500 yards away, standing alone in the snow. He wandered the field a few minutes, then walked back into the woods. We live at the edge of the Berkshires on the far west side of Westfield, MA. I know it was a wolf and not a coyote – we often see the latter. Plus, I’m from Wisconsin and very familiar with what a wolf looks like. This one was a beauty. A little thin, but with a healthy tale and heavy coat. I know it is rare to see one in Massachusetts but this area has everything else, why not wolves??

  32. Peg Avatar

    Because of the animal being identified as a wolf at John G. explained above, you should contact the USFWS in Concord, NH or Hadley, MA (Endangered Species) immediately, so they when get someone out to investigate. The people within the MA dept. might now be a bit more aware that a wolf/wolves could again make it into the region along the Green Mountain Range.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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