A man hunting coyotes in Fairbank, Iowa, in northwest Buchanan County, shot an animal which turned out to be a wolf — the first documented wolf in Iowa in 89 years. The last wolf sighting in Iowa was recorded in 1925, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
At the time, the hunter believed he was shooting a coyote. Upon closer inspection, he suspected the animal might have been a wolf and took it to the DNR office in Manchester. There, biologists examined the animal and ran DNA tests, which confirmed the animal as a wolf. DNR conservation officer Scott Kinseth reports that the hunter took pains to cooperate with the DNR, and had no idea the animal was anything other than a coyote until after he shot it.
“I was surprised but not that surprised,” said DNR furbearer specialist Vince Evelsizer, noting that both Wisconsin and Minnesota, which are adjacent to Iowa, have substantial wolf populations. “Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them.” The animal likely dispersed from one of those populations; the DNA test results strongly indicated that it was of the same genetic background as Minnesota and Wisconsin wolf populations.
The message going forward, Evelsizer said, is, “[Wolves] are protected animals. We know they are here. Make sure of your target. If in doubt, don’t shoot.”