At one time, they roamed throughout most of North America but by the early 1900s, extermination efforts reduced the populations of the gray wolf.
Despite the increase in their population, they still occupy less than 20% of their historic range in North America.
Today, the gray wolf is mainly found in a handful of states including Alaska, parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming.
In Kentucky, the gray wolf had not been spotted in the state since the mid-1800s. However, that changed in 2018 when a Kentucky resident shot a lone female wolf, thinking it was a coyote.
Upon closer inspection, it was determined that he had not killed a coyote but some other animal.
There are quite a few differences between coyotes and wolves. Coyotes are smaller than wolves and tend to have darker coats and a pointed muzzle.
Obviously, the wolf would not have been killed if it had been accurately identified. Initially, officials were skeptical that the animal was a wolf but after DNA analysis, its identity was confirmed.
It was Kentucky's first wolf in over a century. Sadly, there are no other reports of wolves in Kentucky after the 2018 incident.
It is unlikely that gray wolves will return to Kentucky in significant numbers.