A central Montana rancher shot a wolf-like animal after it was spotted in a pasture with livestock, but a closer look has prompted state wildlife officials to take DNA samples to determine what type of animal it was, reports the AP. Fish, Wildlife, and Parks regional spokesman Bruce Auchly said the animal's front claws and canine teeth are too short and its ears are too tall in proportion to its skull for it to be a purebred wolf. "We have no idea what this was until we get a DNA report back," Auchly tells the Great Falls Tribune.
The animal was shot on May 16 near Denton. Wolf management specialist Ty Smucker says the animal could be a wolf-dog hybrid, though DNA tests haven't been returned. Among the colorful possibilities suggested by commenters, per the Tribune: a grizzly cub, a Bigfoot-esque creature called a "dogman," or a prehistoric (and extinct) dire wolf. Whatever it turns out to be, state officials say the rancher was within his rights to kill the animal because it was seen near livestock, domestic dogs, and children. (Read more mystery stories.)