This animal was struck by a car around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Austin Nelson | The Outlook
This animal was struck by a car around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Austin Nelson | The Outlook

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Tallapoosa Man cries wolf after hitting 80-pound animal on U.S. Hwy. 280

Published 9:24pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Andy Chaviers was heading to work Wednesday when he saw a black blur in front of his vehicle.

“I saw it running, and I knew it wasn’t a dog,” Chaviers said. “He was headed straight at my truck.”

Chaviers was traveling toward Alexander City on U.S. Hwy. 280 and had just cross Ala. Hwy. 9 when he struck the animal which he believes may be a wolf.

“I didn’t have time to react,” Chaviers said. “As soon as the lights hit him, he was heading at me.”

It was around 3:30 a.m. Chaviers stopped after the collision, but decided to go get someone else before attempting to load the animal into his truck.

Upon closer inspection, Chaviers said he had a hard time believing the animal was a dog or coyote.

“When I looked up coyotes on the Internet, it said they don’t get over 35-40 pounds,” Chaviers said.

Chaviers estimated the animal weighed about 80-85 pounds.

Joel Glover, wildlife biologist for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, also noted the animal was too large for a coyote.

“It is way too big for a coyote,” Glover said. “As a general rule, 40 pounds is about the limit.”

Glover said that although Alabama used to have wolves, specifically the Red wolf, these animals have long-since abandoned Alabama.

“Alabama hasn’t had wolves since the turn of the century,” Glover said. “In all likelihood, it was probably just a large dog.”

The Red wolf was declared endangered in 1967, and currently there are only 90 or so still in existence, Glover said.

He said that without a DNA test, it would be hard to determine exactly what the animal is.

“We do have black coyotes, but the maximum is 40-45 pounds,” Glover said.

Coyotes occasionally breed with dogs to produce a coydog, but these crosses are uncommon.

Some citizens, however, sometimes opt for dogs with wolf breeds crossed in, Glover said. In fact, a Tallapoosa County man in New Site, Joseph Wilson, used to breed pure-bred wolves for sale.

“A cross breed could possibly have viable offspring, but these numbers are miniscule as far as what is out there,” Glover said.

Chaviers had noted that the dog has quite a set of teeth, but Glover said this doesn’t necessarily mean it is a wolf or cross breed.

“When a dog goes feral, it can be pretty tough looking,” Glover said.