UPDATE on Results of DNA testing..
Now, about a month later, the DNA results are in and the mystery has been solved once and for all.
"The canine creature shot in Montana a month ago that captured the curiosity of the nation is actually a gray wolf," Montana FWP wrote in an announcement Monday.
"DNA from the animal ... was tested at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Oregon. The lab compared the animal's DNA with thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs," the official state agency said. "The conclusion was clear -- this animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains."
Montana FWP says confusion over the animal's identity may have been caused by its appearance in the photos. It seemed to have short legs and big ears but inspection of the animal at the wildlife lab in Bozeman "revealed a relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf" Montana FWP says.
The wolf "measured 45 inches from the tip of the nose to the rump and weighed 84.5 pounds," the announcement said. It is a non-lactating female, estimated to be between 2 and 3 years old. Mary Curtis, geneticist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says physical variations aren't unusual for animals.
So the mysterious animal was actually just one of the approximately 900 wolves roaming Montana. At least the mystery is finally solved.