It has been told in legends and tales that humans can shape-shift into wolves. But in reality it is the wolves that are disappearing and being replaced by a new hybrid of coywolves. This hybrid is the crossbreeding of coyotes and wolves. It has always been thought that hybridization between canid species is rare, but a new study in the Journal of Mammalogyas has proven that it can occur. The study was done by analyzing the coyote scat left behind on their trails. The theory is that hybridization may happen when individuals have trouble finding mates from their own species.

The study found that coyotes have been migrating eastward from their native homelands of the southwestern deserts and plains areas along 2 routes of the U.S.for the last 150 years. One route was through the southern states and the other was through the northern states. The fact that coyotes are moving eastward is a situation that has been caused by humans due to habitat encroachment, hunting, pollution and more.

While the coyotes were moving along the northern route they came across the Great Lakes wolves and interbred before continuing on to the east coast of the U.S. Eventually they headed south along the Appalachian Mountains towards the Mid-Atlantic region. The Mid-Atlantic region is significant because it appears that this is where both the coyotes of the northern route and those of the southern route converged. It is referred to as the Mid-Atlantic coyote melting pot.

This hybridization does not mean that there are huge wolf-like coyotes roaming around on the east coast. Coyotes with wolf ancestry have differently shaped jaws, which allows them to hunt smaller prey and scavenge large game which can make them helpful in controlling the overly abundant deer population. The real problem with these hybrids is that it may cause a major threat to the recovering wolf population. This is extremely critical as they emerge onto the area of recovery of the extremely endangered Red Wolf population in North Carolina. Should the inbreeding continue it could threaten how many true North American wolves are left in the wild on the east coast and maybe someday beyond.


Responses to "Coywolves - A Threat to the Recovery of Wolves in America?"

  1. Kim says:

    Very interesting...thank you for keeping us informed...

  2. CaptainSakonna says:

    I hope no one starts suggesting that we should begin mass killings of the coywolves to prevent them from "contaminating" the wolf population. The Red Wolf, in particular, may have actually originated from crossbreeding between coyotes and wolves. Taking what may be a hybrid to begin with and setting it up on a pedestal, insisting that we just can't tolerate any more coyote genes in the Red Wolf, could be a tragedy if it leads to the deaths of more coyotes/coywolves.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Captain Sakonna is 100% right, what wolf advocates fail to realize is as coyotes are persecuted along with wolves , niether have conspecifics to mate with, even if mixed packs are found, the larger wolf-like animals will maximize the breeding, so wolf-like animals may predominate. Also the relentless shooting of coyotes, hurts wolves more , as hunters indiscriminantly shoot wild canines with no distinction. Recent genetic work shows that red wolves contain more than 80% coyote genetics, so enough with the coffee table book wolf elitism and advocate for wild canines as a whole

  4. Anonymous says:

    This kind of speculation is not truly helpful. The hybridization is natural due to unatural pressures we have put upon them and they may be our best bet for a healthy strong canid species that can live with the pressures we place and are unlikely to ever stop.

    They also carry the genetics of wolves that otherwise would be lost and we should be considering this when trying to keep some pristine unrealistic genetic purity that only risks total loss and flaws due to inbreeding.

    We should protect both for they each have great value and are a part of our natural ecosystems and judging an animal based on size and power really is not respecting the animals as they truly are.

    If you really want to restore what was lost people on mass would have to leave and/or change their habits dramtically and it is pointless to think we can go backwards.

    We can go only forwards. Wolf Advocates need to also become coyote advocates. Restore wolves in the wild where they can but respect the new 'wolf' for it is a natural attempt to rebalance what we have destroyed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All of the above. Well thought out, and well said. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Again all of the above. Different way of looking at this problem we ourselves, in general, have created. Yes both species should b protected. And u may b right. These Coywolves could b Mother Natures way to regroup. Great topic to consider. Thank You.

  7. Anonymous says:

    With so few wolves left, most of them are inbred within packs and end up dying due to genetic problems anyway. So they breed with coyotes... obviously they were meant to be able to or it'd be impossible for them to breed. Spreading the gene pool may actually save what's left of the wolves. We're slowly killing them already trying to keep lines "pure". It's ridiculous.

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