A wolf shot in New Brunswick last year was a wild animal, not one that escaped from captivity, tests have confirmed.
The animal, the first confirmed wolf killing in the province in more than a century, will be mounted for public display at the New Brunswick Museum.
It will be part of a new exhibit on the history of wolves in the province, said Don McAlpine, the head of zoology at the museum.
The wolf, a large young male mix of two breeds — Grey and Eastern Canadian — was healthy and looking for a new territory on the Acadian Peninsula, said McAlpine.
"I think it's always encouraging when an animal that hadn't been in the province for a long time that was exterminated largely by human means, that the population is now healthy enough to recolonize that area that it used to occur in," he said.
The wolf was shot by hunter Jacques Mallet in Saint-Simon, on the Acadian Peninsula, near Caraquet on April 6.
Mallet said he initially thought the animal was a coyote, but at 86 pounds, it's about three times bigger than an average coyote.
DNA tests confirmed it was a wolf.
The last time a wolf had been 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.
McAlpine wanted to know whether the wolf shot by Mallet was a free ranging, wild animal or a wolf raised in captivity in the northeastern United States that had run away or been released.
"We had some stable isotope work done at the University of New Brunswick at the stable isotope lab and that work has now confirmed that this was indeed a wild origin," he said.
McAlpine says it likely wandered into New Brunswick from northern Quebec, where wolf populations have been increasing in recent years.
"It was in great health … lots of body fat," he said.
"It had a few tape worms in it as well that indicate it had been feeding in the wild for a while, so it was in good shape."
McAlpine said he expects other wolves could follow and hopes they won't be mistaken for coyotes and shot.