Bobcats, coyotes and deer, oh my! North Texas is a wildlife hotspot, but is a wolf hanging out in the area?
Carrollton resident, Aimee Ramirez, saw what she believed to be a wolf while driving on Midway Road, near President George Bush Turnpike. She quickly snapped a photo of the animal before it was able to run off. Ramirez reported that a firetruck was attempting to locate the animal, driving around the block.
And the photograph is pretty convincing at first glance. The animal seems to be on the prowl with its head down and feet moving quickly. Compared to the average-sized coyote, the animal appears to be larger than normal.
“After speaking with our Wildlife Animal Services Officer, she is unable to make a positive species identification due to the poor quality of the photo,” City of Dallas Public Information Coordinator Marlo Clingman said. “Wolves are incredibly rare in Texas.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife also told Local Profile they were not able to positively identify the animal based on the photo. But after speaking to wildlife biologist Trevor Tanner, the odds of a wolf being in North Texas were evidently slim to none.
Tanner told Local Profile that some coyotes may look more like wolves than others. Coyotes primarily near Galveston still have traces of wolf genetics, making some coyotes have more wolfish features. He also noted that if there is a wolf in North Texas, it would likely have been one kept in captivity illegally. However, Tanner does believe that the image is some sort of canine, but most likely not a wolf or coyote.
“This is most likely an escaped pet domestic dog,” Tanner said. “Not sure of the breed though.”
But what is the difference between a wolf and a coyote? First off, the appearance of the animals is similar according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but there are key differences to tell the animals apart. Coyotes typically have longer and thinner snouts, while wolves have shorter and blockier ones. Wolves also have thicker and longer bodies than their distant relative with distinctively shorter and fluffier tails. Walks are a tell. Wolves have thicker legs and large feet and walk heavier and stiffer. Coyotes have thinner legs and small feet and trot while walking.
Wolf or not, both animals are dangerous and should not be approached. To learn how to stay safe around North Texas’s predators, check out Local Profile’s bobcat and coyote guide.
The Dallas Animal Services asks residents who see a coyote to report sightings by calling 469-676-9813. If a coyote is spotted during the daytime, DAS encourages residents to shout, honk or throw objects near (not at) the coyote to re-condition it to be afraid of humans.
More tips on coyote safety and tools can be found at www.BeDallas90.org/coyotes.