Wolves are not popular in many westerns states in the U.S. (that’s a discussion for another day), but what about wolfish creatures? That’s just one question being asked this week in and around the tiny central Montana town of Denton (population 250), where a wolf-like beast was killed (OK, I guess one question was answered) and many are wondering what it might be … and if there are more.
The story was reported by local media outlets, including country radio station KXLO, which posted a photograph of the creature in the back of a pickup truck. Reports indicated that the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department dispatched two men after a call on May 16, and because there were livestock on the ranch where it was seen (are there any places in Montana that are NOT near livestock?), they killed it.
Let the hyperbole begin. While headlines blared “Wolfman!”, “Dogman!”, Bigfoot!”, “Chupacabra!” and more, the sole photo on the pickup truck tailgate showed that the creature was the size of a wolf or big dog and it definitely did not look exactly like either species. It was reported that the creature was sent to a laboratory in Bozeman (probably at Montana State University) for examination and DNA testing.
That was on May 16. It is now May 24th and no report has been released, which opens the case to suspicion. While there are wolves in Montana, they roam primarily in the western part of the state and Denton is in the center. The creature could be a wolf-dog hybrid or a coywolf, although those seem to occur more in the eastern U.S. An interesting suggestion is that the creature is a malnourished bear or bear cub – its ear appears to be round and bearish, but the legs seem more canine.
Is it some sort of cryptid? Ignoring the mangy-dog/Chupacabra discussion that occurs every time a mangy dog is seen in Texas, one interesting mythical cryptid of Montana is the shunka warakin (or shunka warak'in) from Native American folklore that was said to be wolf-like or hyena-ish. A famous example was shot in 1896 by Israel Ammon Hutchins in Montana and preserved by a taxidermist but was never tested by a DNA expert. Prehistoric animals resembling the creature that lived (and went extinct) in Montana include the hyaenodon (88-to-120 pound carnivore), dire wolves (about the same size as modern wolves), Borophaginae (referred to as ‘bone-crushing dogs) and Chasmaporthetes (the only American hyena).
Most unusual wolf-like creatures found in Montana (and other states) turn out to be wolf hybrids or sickly wolves or dogs, and that will probably the resolution here (or a sickly bear). However, the delay in releasing test results (now over a week) will continue to raise suspicions.
What does it look like to you? Don’t you wish they had captured it alive?