Published: Jan 17, 2011 11:57 PM EST
Updated: Jan 17, 2011 7:23 PM EST

Sheri Bickerton has seen wolves in zoos and coyotes in the wild in Montana.  She believes firmly that she and her husband David Selby saw a very rare Red Wolf in San Carlos Park, a few nights ago.

"It turned and looked right at us, and I could see from the long snout, the tall, pointed ears, spread far apart, and the reddish coat, it was not just a dog or even a coyote," said Bickerton.  

Selby agrees.  "I have seen wolves many times in zoos, and this was a wolf.  You could tell by the huge size of the body, it was not a coyote," he told WINK.  "It was scary and exciting to see something that very few people will ever see."

They spotted the animal at Three Oaks parkway and Winged Foot, just west of   I-75.  The animal ran off into a pasture after the couple spotted it and stopped their car.

Fish and Wildlife officers told Bickerton, it probably was a coyote.   But Nancy Smith of the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Collier county told WINK:   "It could be a wolf-dog mix.   I doubt it was a pure Red Wolf.   But we have pictures of suspected red wolves and wolf-mixes in this area, in the past two years.   I feel for the animal.   It poses no threat to people and just wants to survive."

Red Wolves used to roam the southeast U.S., but were considered extinct in the wild after 1980.   Smith says some people are re-introducing Red Wolves into the wild in North Carolina.    Smith adds: it is possible that some of the species, or a mix, survived in south Florida over the years.

Lee County has had several coyote sightings in recent years, but not many wolves.