BAKER CITY – A carcass discovered Friday in Union County may be a wolf, the Oregon State Police reported.

State police with help from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are investigating the circumstances of the animal’s death, according to a news release. The animal appears to be a wolf but authorities are waiting on a DNA test for confirmation, according to state police.

A caller reported finding the animal about 8 a.m Friday on private property about six miles north of Cove, state police reported. State police Sgt. Isaac Cyr, a fish and wildlife officer from Baker City, took the carcass to a local veterinarian for X-rays and further examination, but the vet could not immediately determine a cause of death.

The state police wildlife division is attempting to rule out a criminal act.

The 97-pound animal would not be a member of any of the four known wolf packs in northeast Oregon, according to ODFW. Tracks of a single wolf were discovered in the area in October 2011 and in January. Wildlife officials installed cameras and surveyed the area for more tracks but found no further evidence of wolves in the area, according to the department.

A wolf was last found dead in Oregon in March 2011 in Wallowa County, according to ODFW.

Wolves are protected by the state Endangered Species Act throughout Oregon. Except in the defense of human life or with a special permit, killing a wolf is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $6,250.

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