A mysterious wolf-like creature shot and killed on a ranch in Montana has baffled local wildlife officials.
The animal, which was shot within several hundred metres of the rancher's livestock, has long greyish fur, an extended snout and a large head like a wolf.
It also features long, large ears and a short body and legs that are uncharacteristic for a North American species.
The creature is now with officials at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for a DNA analysis, with experts saying they have 'no idea' what it is.
UK experts said the animal was most likely a cross between a wolf and a coyote or dog, and may even be part of an elaborate prank.
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A large wolf-like creature shot and killed on a ranch in Montana has baffled local wildlife officials. The animal (pictured), which was shot within several hundred metres of the rancher's livestock, has long grayish fur, an extended snout and a large head like a wolf
Richard Morley, director of the Exeter-based charity the Wolves and Humans Foundation, told MailOnline: 'This is almost certainly a wolf or a wolf/dog or wolf/coyote hybrid.
'It will be interesting to see if the DNA results ever surface. It could even be a badly stuffed taxidermy specimen set up as a joke.'
Mike Collins, site manager and wolf keeper at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Berkshire, agreed.
He told MailOnline: 'I would hazard a guess at either a wolfdog hybrid or just a regular wolf.
'Although people are speculating the animal has short legs and big ears, this could very well just be the individuals genotype expressed through its unique phenotype.
'Wolves can be as individual as we are, in fact every animal is an individual as a result of our genetic material.'
The strange creature also features long, large ears and a short body and legs that are uncharacteristic for a North American wolf. Pictured is the animal's head next to a pen for scale
The lone-predator was shot and killed on a ranch outside Denton, Montana on May 16 and was quickly turned over to State officials.
Bruce Auchly, information manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said: 'We have no idea what this was until we get a DNA report back.'
Montana government officials say they have 'no idea' what the creature is. Pictured is its paw next to a human hand
'It was near a rancher's place, it was shot, and our game wardens went to investigate. The whole animal was sent to our lab in Bozeman. That's the last I ever heard of it.'
Ty Smucker, wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the animal is most likely a wolfdog hybrid.
He said: 'Several things grabbed my attention when I saw the pictures.
'The ears are too big. The legs look a little short. The feet look a little small, and the coat looks weird. There's just something off about it.'
'We've had a few instances of wolf/dog hybrids out there. One was out somewhere in eastern central Montana killing sheep like