Do wild wolves exist in New York State? The answer may depend upon who you ask. Over the years residents claim to have seen wild wolves on their property, while hiking or hunting. Others say wolves exist in New York as much as the Mountain Lion or Big Foot and for decades experts have told us that wolves no longer exist in the wild in New York.

If wild wolves don't exist in New York State then how does the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) explain their confirmation that a wolf was killed near Cooperstown?

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In 2021, according to the Adirondack Almanac, an 81-pound canid was shot and killed by a hunter in Otsego County near Cooperstown. The DEC initially reported that this kill was a coyote but would conduct DNA tests for confirmation. Fast forward to March 13, 2023, following much pressure by environmental organizations, the test results were revealed.

DEC scientists use a variety of tools to study New York’s animals. The discovery of a wolf killed in Otsego County in December 2021, although very rare, a few wolves have been documented in New York. Some of these animals were later determined to be escaped or intentionally released captive animals. - NYS DEC

The DEC indicates that wild wolves are still found throughout Canada as well as Montana and Wyoming. They go on to say that the wild wolves of New England and in New York were extirpated from the Northeast nearly 125 years ago.

So, do wild wolves exist in New York State? Typically, no. Wild wolves may find their way to the Empire State from Canada but it appears this is a unusual and rare occurrence. Many of the wild wolves people think they see are actually Eastern Coyote.

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