Wildlife biologists with Nebraska Game and Parks say genetic testing has proven that an animal killed January 28 by coyote hunters north of Fremont near Ueling was a gray wolf.
Testing showed the wolf, legally shot by the hunters who then contacted Game and Parks, came from a wolf population in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Game and Parks Furbearer and Carnivore program manager Sam Wilson says wolves were native to Nebraska, but had been killed off by the early 1900s with the January incident just their third confirmed presence since then.
Wilson says the two wolf populations nearest Nebraska are in the Upper Great Lakes and the Northern Rocky Mountains, but that they can travel great distances – especially young wolves.
Wilson emphasizes there is no evidence of an resident wolves or wolf reproduction in Nebraska, biologists expect young wolves in search of new territory to make it to the state from time to time.
The first modern confirmation of a wolf in Nebraska came in 2002 near Spaulding in the east-central part of the state.
The second was this past November, when a rancher south of Bassett out checking his livestock shot and killed an 81-pound male. All three animals were genetically linked to the Upper Great Lakes wolf population.