Wolf found dead in Indiana was shot with rifle
A wild wolf found dead in an east-central Indiana field this summer died from a gunshot wound to its heart fired from a high-powered rifle, federal officials say.
The late June shooting death of the 1-year-old, male gray wolf came a year after another gray wolf was shot to death in central Illinois.
Although wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans no criminal charges in either case.
The shooters may have mistaken the animals for coyotes, said Tim Santel, the federal agency's agent in charge.
However, he said the two shootings demonstrate the importance of being sure of any target before firing.
"Obviously, we don't expect to see a wolf in Indiana or Illinois, but we should all be aware that the possibility exists," Santel said.
Though gray wolves disappeared from Indiana and Illinois about a hundred years ago, an estimated 3,000 gray wolves populate Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The wolves shot in Indiana and Illinois wandered hundreds of miles south of their original home packs in unsuccessful efforts to establish packs, wildlife officials said.
Indiana and Illinois have too much agricultural, industrial and suburban land to support wolf packs, but lone wolves will probably continue to disperse into Indiana and Illinois occasionally, said Scott Pruitt, a Fish and Wildlife Service field supervisor in Bloomington.
"It will not be a common occurrence, but these individuals proved it can happen," he said.
The wolf found shot to death south of Winchester represented the first confirmed sighting of a wolf in Indiana since 1908.
That wolf had been a member of the Wildcat Mound Pack in the 67,000-acre Black River State Forest in Wisconsin.
It was captured there a year ago and fitted with an ear tag transmitter that quit working in January, when it was still in Wisconsin.
Information from: The Star Press
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