On Friday (May 25), conservation and forestry officials in Montana virtually threw up their hands and admitted defeat. Even they could not accurately say what it is that a citizen of Denton, Montana shot and photographed recently. "We will have no idea what this is until we get a DNA report back," said Bruce Auchly of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

The animal appears to be some kind of canine, with brown-gray fur, pointed ears, an oversized head, and oversized claws. In sum, the animal is far too big to be a domesticated dog, and yet its legs are much shorter than a wolf's.

The animal was first discovered back on May 16. At that time, a man claims that he shot the animal because it was threatening to eat his livestock. According to the Great Falls Tribune, the town of Denton, where the incident occurred, is a tiny hamlet that is not frequently mentioned in the local news. Without question, this is the biggest news story to hit Denton in quite some time.

User comments

When the Great Falls Tribune first reported the story, it went viral, with hundreds of comments pouring in. Some online commentators claim that the creature is a dire wolf, a species of canine that went extinct after the Late Pleistocene age. One commentator brought up the cryptid creature known as the dogman, a sort of hybrid entity that the writer claims is protected by the US government.

"Cryptid" refers to mysterious beasts that are not recognized by accepted science. These creatures, many of which can be found in folklore, are studied by cryptozoologists. Famous cryptids include Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Yeti.

One of the less fanciful explanations for this creature is that it is some kind of wolf-dog that grew up in the wild.

It has also be argued that the creature is a regular dog or wolf afflicted with some kind of disease like mange.

'Something off'

In response to online theories, Mr. Auchly joked that "Dire Wolf" was a song by the Grateful Dead released in 1971. However, despite finding humor in pet theories, Auchly admits that there is "something off" about the Denton creature.

Currently, the state of Montana says that there are some 900 wolves in the entire state. There are many more dogs, but very few can be listed as "wild" or "feral." The Denton creature does not fit comfortably into either of these boxes.

A quick Google search will inform any reader that "werewolf sightings" have been reported all across America. Arguably the most famous of these "werewolves" is the Beast of Bray Wolf, a legendary lycanthrope first reported in 1936 not far from the rural town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Another famous werewolf is the Rougarou of the Louisiana bayou.