A man in South Dakota found himself in hot water after shooting an animal that may turn out to be a gray wolf.

According to The Public Opinion, Mike Werner was hunting for coyotes in Marshall County, near Clear Lake. He was suddenly taken by surprise by what he thought was a larger, darker colored coyote that came from the opposite direction he was facing.

Werner reportedly shot the animal from roughly 100 yards away, and is now caught up in a federal investigation. . .

Right when he shot, Werner began putting the pieces together and realized what he killed closely resembled a wolf. Knowing that they are highly protected under the Endangered Species Act, Werner immediately called a local game warden, and left the animal where it was.

Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are now reviewing the case, and Marshall County DNR said the animal is being tested at a federal laboratory.

State Conservation Officer Supervisor Mike Klosowski elaborated on the odds of gray wolf sightings in South Dakota:

“To the east we have Minnesota. Northern Minnesota has a healthy population of gray wolves. Then when you go out west near Yellowstone National Park, you have a very healthy population of wolves out there, too.”

Klosowski also noted if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were to prosecute, which sounds unlikely, the case would go to court. However, as long as everything Werner said pans out to be true, it doesn’t appear likely USFWS to pursue further legal action.

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