HELBURNE, Mass. - Wildlife officials say an animal killed in Shelburne last fall was an endangered eastern gray wolf, a species long extinct in the region.Having lived in Minnesota, where a healthy contingent of timber wolves live in the back country, I can say that the return of a top-of-the foodchain predator is a very positive indicator for the health of the forests and eco-systems of New England. While wolves are scary for many, attacks on humans are incredibly rare. They tend to keep to their own business.
An official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says DNA tests and other examinations of the 85-pound animal confirmed it was a gray wolf.
Gray wolves became locally extinct in Massachusetts in the mid-1800s, with the closest known population in Canada. However, evidence has been mounting that the wolves have been migrating south into parts of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The federal wildlife official says they found nothing to indicate the wolf was held in captivity, and do not know how it reached western Massachusetts.
A Shelburne farmer killed the animal last October because it was killing lambs on his property.