ID: Fish and Game: Wolf photo a hoax

Animal likely shot in Canada, not Sun Valley


In a photo posted on Facebook last week that has since gone viral, a man holds up wolf supposedly weighing 230 pounds and shot in Sun Valley by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The photo was likely taken in Canada, and the wolf is roughly 135 pounds, officials say. Courtesy photo

A circulating photo of a giant wolf allegedly killed in Sun Valley by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is a hoax, say state officials.

“That thing has gone viral!” said Todd Grimm, spokesman for Idaho Wildlife Services.

Grimm said he first saw the photo in summer 2009, when it circulated and then faded before resurfacing last week.

“I can tell you it’s not in Idaho,” he said.

The photo shows a hunter, outfitted in camouflage hunting gear and leather gloves, holding what looks to be an enormous wolf in an upright position. The wolf, end to end, is slightly larger than the hunter.

The alleged hoax was posted on a Caldwell woman’s Facebook page on Oct. 26, listing the location as Sun Valley, Idaho. The photo has since been removed, and the woman could not be reached to determine how she came across the photo.

However, Regan Berkley, a wildlife biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said she’s seen the photo attributed to a myriad of locations.

“I’m almost certain it wasn’t from the Sun Valley area,” Berkley said in an email to a Jackson Hole Weekly reporter, adding that she’s seen it listed as being killed in Idaho, Montana and various parts of Canada.

Canada might be the best guess, according to wildlife officials. Grimm said the man in the photo is likely holding the wolf in Alberta or British Columbia. Randy Smith, big-game manager for the department’s regional office in Jerome, said the first time he saw the photo, it was listed as having been taken in British Columbia.

“The next time I saw it, it was marked Idaho,” he said., a site dedicated to studying and potentially debunking Internet myths, has set aside a comment thread for the photo. According to commenters, the wolf has been suspected as killed in Edson, Alberta, “just east” of Yellowstone Park, in Manitoba, and near Drayson Valley, Alberta.

Weight estimates range from 197 pounds to 230 pounds, far larger than the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s figure for the average weight of an Idaho wolf—120 pounds. But wolves always look bigger when hanging in that position and alongside a hunter, Grimm said.

“That guy is not a real big guy,” he said, adding that much smaller wolves usually look larger in photos. “The biggest wolf that we’ve ever weighed was 135 pounds. When you hung it up, it looked that big.”

Grimm said the wolf in the photo is not larger than 135 pounds, and certainly does not approach record-breaking weights. In addition, he said, the wolf was definitely not killed by state Fish and Game.

“If this wolf was killed in a control action, it would have been [Idaho Wildlife Services] that did it,” he said, and the hunter in the photo is not a Wildlife Services employee.

Circulating photos of impressive game—real or false—is nothing new, Smith said

“These pictures of wildlife crop up all the time, whether it’s a big bull elk or a rumor of some big kill,” he said. “A lot of what you see, you have to be real careful about interpreting.”

Though Facebook and Twitter have increased the speed at which photos can circulate, Grimm said emailed photos have made their way onto websites in the past and gone viral that way.

Jessica Walker, a customer service representative at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Twin Falls, said hoax photos submitted for the store’s “brag board” are generally easy to spot.

“You can kind of tell,” she said, adding that the store has not had a significant problem with falsified submissions. However, some photos that seem too good to be true actually are real, she said.

“We had one that’s up there that was a 6-foot rattlesnake,” she said. “If it wasn’t for one of our girls here whose cousin had found [the snake], you would have thought it was fake.”

One photo that has recently circulated across the state is a picture of a female hunter posing next to a wolf she shot with a handgun while bowhunting. That photo is real, Grimm said, and the story behind it was tracked down by the Spokesman-Review newspaper and the Clearwater Tribune in Orofino, Idaho.

Rene Anderson, a 55-year-old woman from Headquarters, Idaho, was elk hunting on Sept. 25 when she was allegedly charged by a wolf. Thinking quickly, Anderson pulled her .44 magnum Smith and Wesson pistol and killed the 100-pound wolf with four shots.

“That’s real,” Grimm said Monday. “Some of that stuff that’s written in those emails is not necessarily confirmed, but she was bow hunting in Idaho and she did shoot that wolf with a handgun.”

Smith, Walker and Grimm said there wasn’t a sure-fire way to tell a real “brag shot” from a fake, unless a photo has been obviously poorly manipulated using photo-editing software.

Grimm called wildlife officials from several states to try and track down the false wolf photo, and said making calls and following the trail is really the only surefire way to tell a hoax.

“Call somebody who really might know before forwarding it on,” he said.


23 thoughts on “ID: Fish and Game: Wolf photo a hoax

  1. Grimm? Is that his real name? Grimm and a giant wolf is just tooooo coincidental isn’t it?

  2. altered photo. You can see a “piece” of a photo that was left on this one, on the man’s thigh.. it appears to be maybe a forearm of what may have been a smaller wolf before enlarging the photo. Other areas of the photo clearly show lines of demarcation that don’t blend when viewed at over 100%.

  3. I don’t care about the place the photo was taken. What I am more concerned about is if that thing is real!

  4. The properties embedded in this photo show no revisions. It was taken with a Motorola C320 cell phone on 5/16/2009 at 4:39:58 pm. Resolution is 480×640 and 58kb which is typical of cell phone pictures. No revision date is in the picture indicating it has not been changed.
    It is my opinion that this is a true picture but I will stop short of guessing how big the wolf is. Too many variables. I modify pictures all the time for various reasons and the changes always show up in the properties.
    P.S.> Not all versions of this picture show any properties because of the way they are copied to the web. Originals are out there though. I was curious too.
    Pat in Oregon.

      • yeah im from idaho. ive seen them up close also.. and like fish and game said .. this isnt even a big one. ive seen firsthand cattle torn to shreds just down the road in mackay from these monsters. we dislike the wolves ALOT. but they are doing what they do.. i HATE the stupid bastards who brought them here without bothering to check if it would bother the people living here… (and the retards brought the wrong species of wolf) which have since eaten what was left of the much smaller native wolf seen on a regular basis thru the last 30 years here.

  5. I don’t know for certain the origin of the photographs. However, the size of the animals compared to the male individuals holding them is obvious and that, in the final analysis, is what draws the eye.

    We have different individuals holding the same or different Wolves and without a scale from which to judge the animal’s size makes it difficult to assess the validity of the photos. Without knowing the height and weight of each person holding an animal also complicates the analysis.

    If you examine the photos carefully, the shadowing from both the animal, it’s legs and the person holding the animal seems to discount the photo shop assumption or at least throw it into question at the very least.

    I suppose it’s possible to photo shop the Wolf and then overlay it on each different person. However, when we can still see the arm(s) of the individual holding the animal and the context appears correct …. well, it just makes you wonder.

    I’ve seen Wolves in the wild in Minnesota and Yellow Stone but obviously nothing like is pictured here. If its a “photo shopped” picture they did a pretty good job. If not, then just tell me and I’ll stay out of that area :{

  6. I’ll bet it would be hard to find a veteran hunter who believed this pix to be real for a second. It is so out of balance with wolf size, it’s obvious that it isn’t what it might seem to some. Having said that, it’s interesting that there are no sound answers as to how the pix was manipulated to make the wolf look so big. I could use that trick to make my caught fish look like trophies!

  7. My former boss, back in 2008 or 2009, claimed that a co-worker of his wife, who worked at Costco in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had killed this wolf near Farragut State Park in Idaho. Since then, I’ve seen the photo numerous times…always in a different location, and not in the location claimed by my former boss!

    Who knows where it was actually killed…lots of folks just love attention – no matter how they get it! I guess they don’t consider that lies are always exposed.

  8. I saw the real photo of that tonite at work as a matter of fact. It not a feak. I saw the original photo. I live in Winnipeg, Canada. That wolf was in BC, supposedly was eating hitch hikers, they shot 5 out of 8 wolves. freakin scary.

  9. There is another Wolf picture circulating on Facebook right now as I,am writing to you.. This picture is upsetting me and many others.. A Giant Wolf that was killed in Conklin Alberta on January 9 2012..
    Is this another hoax?
    Please check this out for us.. I support many wild animals including the Wolf.In Graditude,Thank-you

  10. I see comments about this picture being “photo shopped”. This statement might be true, but please do not think there isnt any of these monsters around. I am a female hound hunter from WI and i have seen monsterous wolf tracks when i am checking roads for bear tracks. The tracks that i have seen have been as big as a 200 lb bear tracks. I do beleive they are here in WI.

  11. Unless someone managed to clone a Dire Wolf the photos are fake. On some web sites you can enlarge them and clearly see that the edges of the wolf’s feet still maintain small portions of the original background and in one photo in the series(as mentioned previously)its back has been slightly distorted where something has been photo shopped out. As to the lack of changes to the photo’s embedded properties…easy, you take a photo of your photo shopped photo.

  12. Pingback: Mrs Wold's Biology | “Giant killing machines” fact or fiction?

  13. I have seen a timberwolf walking between two cabins in late fall that was about the same size. Moose Lake Southeastern Manitoba. Made the hair stand up on my head. I was about 100ft away from it. I no longer enjoy walking down a dark dirt road at night. I love wilderness camping but ………….tend to look over my shoulder a bit more now.

  14. I live on a farm in east central MN. There have been sightings of Timber Wolf tracks as big as a man’s out stretched hand behind my place. My neighbor, who is 6′tall, came across one that stood half way up his thigh! They both were startled by each other, and both just slowly walked away from each other, needless to say, it was quite the experience;scared half to death and an awe inspiring moment! Male Timber Wolves are huge, they can be as big as a small deer. They are beautiful to look at, but they are destructive to the area farmers way of living. In one case they killed almost an entire herd of sheep. The others lost many cows and calves. I don’t know if this pic is real or not, all I know is that Timber Wolves are huge!

    • seems I heard that was a GMO herd that wasn’t working out for some reason, and the rancher just wanted to be compensated by the feds for a failed project.

  15. I am in Minnesota right now , jan. 2013 where there has been a wolf hunt going on. The some of the wolves they have taken have been huge. We just saw one that weighed 180lb. Also, look at how the man is holding the wolf. It is not out away from his body his hands are over lapped and wolf against the mans body. Not the same as the fish trick where you hold the fish at arms length to make it appear larger. This guy is hugging the wolf close to him. I do not believe it weighs over 200lbs but I do believe he is a huge wolf. The wolves in Mn. Are,some of them , very large

  16. I’m calling BS on the wolf shot with the handgun story. Since when do healthy wild wolves charge hunters? There have been two — yes two — possible fatalities caused by wild wolves in North America in the last 200 years.

    The monster (I don’t call those that kill wolves people that would imply they’re human beings) that shot the wolf may have killed it with a hand gun but unless someone has video of the animal actually charging I say the story is crap, just like the POS that pulled the trigger.

  17. After looking at other Photo’s of killed wolf’s in Idaho I thought oh my God I didn’t realize how big wolfs were, I do believe that the wolf in the photo above is a huge wolf being held up by a small man.

  18. 4 years ago my son and I were hunting of f281 in Pisgah National Forest in NC mountains where we live we were attacked by very large wolves. the forrest ranger said he heard of them and that they were hybrids. He said someone had tested one and they are coyote, red wolf and turned loose wolf-dog cross reintroduced hybrids. We have wolves and some times dan makes them more of one type of canine that the other.
    THEY ARE BACK! We found some scat this year with a pink dog collar in it.