It's official. For the first time in almost two hundred years, Denmark has wolves. Well, one dead wolf at least.
Naturstyrelsen, the national nature agency, confirmed today that the wolf-like animal spotted in Thy National Park in northern Jutland was indeed a wolf.
The animal, first spotted walking through a natural reserve by a group of bird watchers, was found dead on November 16. DNA tests carried out have now confirmed that it was a wolf, Canis lupus, and that its DNA matches exactly that of wolves found in Germany.
"This is a big discovery for Denmark's nature," Ole Markussen of Naturstyrelsen said. "We haven't verified the observance of wolves in 199 years, and it is an animal at the top of the food chain that we don't typically have a lot of in our nature areas. It was a lone wanderer and now it is dead. If and when a new wolf will come to Denmark, we do not know."
Naturstyrelsen said that nothing indicates that wolves are on their way in to Denmark, but since the wolf population in Germany is growing, the nature agency predicted that sightings would be more frequent. At least more than once every 200 years, anyway.
It is unknown how long the dead wolf had lived in Denmark before being discovered. The autopsy report concluded that it died as a result of an inflamed tumour that eventually grew large enough to choke the animal. The wolf also suffered a long period in which it could not tolerate food due to the tumour.
Its skeleton will now be sent to the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen. Prior to the October sighting, the last registered wolf in Denmark was shot in 1813.