This time of year, a wolf pup can look like a full-grown coyote. Young wolves are just as small as coyotes and their coats are a similar color.
And if you’re on the hunt for coyotes, you don’t want to accidentally shoot a wolf, which is a protected species. Hunting or accidentally taking a wolf is illegal and carries the potential for huge fines.
So, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife created an online quiz to teach people the differences between the two species. The quiz includes 20 photos and asks participants to decide if the photo is of a wolf or a coyote. After submitting each answer, the quiz offers tips on how to tell them apart.
ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said the quiz, released online Sept. 19, has been a fun way to educate both hunters and the general public. As of Friday, 16,791 people had taken the quiz.
“There was a desire to make something that hunters and others could use to test their knowledge,” Dennehy said. “It’s not just for hunters. We appreciate the general public taking it too.”
A main difference between the two species is size. An adult coyote weighs between 15 and 30 pounds and stands about 1 1⁄2 feet tall and 4 feet long. A grown wolf is much larger, weighing between 70 to 100 pounds and is about 2 1⁄2 feet tall and 6 feet long.
Size can be hard to judge for hunters, so wildlife officials suggest learning other characteristics. Most notably, coyotes have a narrow face and snout, while wolves have a blocky face and snout.
Wolves are no longer listed under the state Endangered Species Act, but they are considered a special status game mammal and protected by the Oregon Wolf Plan throughout the state, according to ODFW.
Wolf populations fluctuate, but at least 112 wolves were counted in Oregon in 2016. Wildlife officials in 2016 documented 11 wolf packs, with eight breeding pairs. Wolves currently in the state either migrated from Idaho or were born here.
Most of the wolf packs are found in Northeast Oregon, with others being found in the Southwest. No wolf packs have been discovered in Deschutes County.
“We are not aware of a resident pack in the Bend area,” Dennehy said.
There is no hunting season for wolves in Oregon. In October 2015, a Baker City man was charged with shooting and killing a radio-collared gray wolf in Grant County that he mistook for a coyote.
The hunter, Brennon D. Witty, voluntarily notified the state wildlife officials and Oregon State Police that he shot the wolf while hunting coyotes on private property south of Prairie City, according to media reports at the time.
In February 2016, Witty pleaded guilty to taking a threatened or endangered species and was fined $1,000. Wolves were listed under the state’s Endangered Species Act at the time of the incident. He was also ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution to ODFW, and his firearm was forfeited to the state.
Oregon wildlife officials rely on people, including hunters, to report wolf sightings. A reporting form is available on the wildlife department’s website. Reports from the public can help wildlife biologists know where to do their wolf surveys.
“We do get wolf reports from the general public,” Dennehy said. “We can’t always respond immediately to a report, but it does help with surveys.”
HAVE FUN WITH THUS EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE. TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND SAVE A WOLF!!!!!