More tests ordered on 80-pound beast, thought to be coyote

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Joe Fleming of Spillar's Cove, near Bonavista, poses with a large coyote he killed on the Bonavista Peninsula in this file photo. — Submitted photo

The genetic identity of a 80-pound animal shot in mid-March and believed first to be a coyote is in fact still unknown, Environment and Conservation Minister Terry French told The Telegram today.

“I don’t know what it is,” French said. “They’ve told us everything.”

The story of the massive beast shot by coyote hunter Joe Fleming on the Bonavista Peninsula in mid-March captivated the province and went wild on The Telegram’s website.

French got conflicting reports — wolf, coyote or wolf-coyote-dog hybrid — from DNA tests done by Memorial University and the University of Idaho, and has asked for a comparative analysis, comparing the animal to wolf samples.

The province has an arrangement through its caribou strategy with the University of Idaho. The new results could be known in a little over a week, French told The Telegram.

French thought it prudent to do two tests because of the debate among geneticists about how the animals are intertwined, and because they interbreed.

“I wanted to be sure,” he said.

“Hopefully now when the two of them are done, I will have an independent study from each lab that will hopefully collaborate and hopefully I will be able to announce once and for all what the animal is.”

French said there are a number of rumours it’s a wolf, but there’s also suggestion it’s a coyote or dog.

“Before I make a definitive announcement on this, I want to have the facts perfect,” he said.

While the province waited for results, there has been phenomenal debate over what the animal actually is.

Fleming, The Spillars Cove crab fisherman and avid coyote tracker, shot the animal between Bonavista and Port Rexton on a pole line adjacent a series of marshes.

The province offers a coyote carcass registration reward of $25 as an incentive to gain access to carcasses to assist with biological investigation of the species. This includes carcass evaluation to assess their diets.

The breed of coyote in Newfoundland is known as the eastern coyote, which is believed to have interbred with wolves during their trek from the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, through the Maritimes and into Newfoundland. The species has been blamed for killing animals on the island, such as caribou and young moose.

Organizations: University of Idaho, U.S. Eastern Seaboard

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Bonavista, Port Rexton

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Recent comments

  • Devon
    April 23, 2012 - 14:39

    Sure looks like a wolf to me, gonna go out on a limb and say it's from Labrador. Doubt any first generation hybrid would be able to reach that size or be this comparable to a Wolf in terms of facial and body structure. Are there even any high content Wolf breeders in Labrador? If there is, then that could be a possibility, but my gut feeling tells me there are none.

  • S
    April 21, 2012 - 22:21

    It do look like a dog! I think the city of St. Johns should start doing something about the alarming number of coyotes, roaming the streets here before someones child gets hurt! Just my opinion....

  • Francesco Nardelli
    April 21, 2012 - 05:01

    Have you considered a wolfdog ? They are commonly bred and kept as pets. This looks like one of those. Cheers, Francesco

  • jmh
    April 20, 2012 - 21:56

    sure looks like a dog

  • leah
    April 20, 2012 - 19:50

    I dont believe it-they still dont know if its coyote or wolf------no by its a alien

  • Duffy
    April 20, 2012 - 19:19

    It is someones dog that is a cross between a wolf/husky/shepard or similiar. The big bad hunter shot someones dog!

  • MT
    April 20, 2012 - 17:23

    I'm willing to bet it's someones imported hybrid gone back to its roots, after getting to be to much to handle...Glad he didn't surface in town. He's certainly an impressive looking critter!

  • Frank
    April 20, 2012 - 15:47

    What happens if it turns out to be a large dog? Hmmm?

  • David
    April 20, 2012 - 14:28

    Don't send it to Eastern Health! It'll come back that it's a pregnant unicorn with cancer of the Yaris.

    • will
      April 20, 2012 - 15:48


    • s
      April 21, 2012 - 22:14

      hahahaa!!! thats funny but so just made me laugh out loud!