New Brunswick could have its first reported wolf killing in more than a century.
Hunter Jacques Mallet shot a wolf-like animal weighing nearly 90 pounds on the Acadian Peninsula last week.
Provincial wildlife officials said they’ve never seen anything like it. The last time a wolf was reported killed in the province was in 1876.
They were believed to have been hunted to extinction after the province starting offering a bounty in 1858 of 15 shillings for every wolf killed.
The provincial Natural Resources Department is waiting for DNA results to determine whether the animal is a wolf, a coyote or a mixture of the two.
Mallet shot the animal at Saint Simon, near Caraquet.
He has been hunting coyotes for two years and this was his second kill.
Mallet said he initially thought it was a coyote — until he got closer and realized how big it was.
"I said, 'Oh my God, maybe that's not a coyote. That's a wolf. I don't know what it is.' I was quite surprised."
Mallet said the animal, which weighed 86 pounds, is nearly three times the size of any coyotes he has seen.
"I'm 180 pounds and six feet tall. So by looking at that picture, you can see, that's a big animal."
"It's very big. It's more the size of a wolf," agreed Denis Guitard, a technician with the Natural Resources Department's regional biology unit.
Most coyotes in New Brunswick have some wolf DNA in them, Guitard said. A few have bred with dogs.
Mallet’s kill would be the biggest coyote yet, Guitard said.
"Occasionally the trappers would catch a big one — like up to 60 pounds. But over 80 pounds? We've never heard of it."
The department has sent DNA samples to the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John for testing.
Meanwhile, the animal is being stored in a fridge that belongs to Mallet's hunting buddy, Roger Lanteigne.
Whatever the verdict — wolf or coyote — Lanteigne says there's no question it could easily take down a deer.
"Big teeth and claws," he said.
If DNA testing shows the animal is a wolf, Mallet will have to hand it over to the Department of Natural Resources, but he'll still have bragging rights for the record kill.
If it's a giant coyote, he plans to have it stuffed, he said.