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Interesting Article on Coywolves in the Economist

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I don't think a link will work b/c you have to subscribe, so I copied the entire article below:

 

Greater than the sum of its parts

It is rare for a new animal species to emerge in front of scientists’ eyes. But this seems to be happening in eastern North America

Oct 31st 2015

 

 

LIKE some people who might rather not admit it, wolves faced with a scarcity of potential sexual partners are not beneath lowering their standards. It was desperation of this sort, biologists reckon, that led dwindling wolf populations in southern Ontario to begin, a century or two ago, breeding widely with dogs and coyotes. The clearance of forests for farming, together with the deliberate persecution which wolves often suffer at the hand of man, had made life tough for the species. That same forest clearance, though, both permitted coyotes to spread from their prairie homeland into areas hitherto exclusively lupine, and brought the dogs that accompanied the farmers into the mix.

 

Interbreeding between animal species usually leads to offspring less vigorous than either parent—if they survive at all. But the combination of wolf, coyote and dog DNA that resulted from this reproductive necessity generated an exception. The consequence has been booming numbers of an extraordinarily fit new animal (see picture) spreading through the eastern part of North America. Some call this creature the eastern coyote. Others, though, have dubbed it the “coywolf”. Whatever name it goes by, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, reckons it now numbers in the millions.

 

The mixing of genes that has created the coywolf has been more rapid, pervasive and transformational than many once thought. Javier Monzón, who worked until recently at Stony Brook University in New York state (he is now at Pepperdine University, in California) studied the genetic make-up of 437 of the animals, in ten north-eastern states plus Ontario. He worked out that, though coyote DNA dominates, a tenth of the average coywolf’s genetic material is dog and a quarter is wolf.

 

The DNA from both wolves and dogs (the latter mostly large breeds, like Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds), brings big advantages, says Dr Kays. At 25kg or more, many coywolves have twice the heft of purebred coyotes. With larger jaws, more muscle and faster legs, individual coywolves can take down small deer. A pack of them can even kill a moose.

 

Coyotes dislike hunting in forests. Wolves prefer it. Interbreeding has produced an animal skilled at catching prey in both open terrain and densely wooded areas, says Dr Kays. And even their cries blend those of their ancestors. The first part of a howl resembles a wolf’s (with a deep pitch), but this then turns into a higher-pitched, coyote-like yipping.

 

The animal’s range has encompassed America’s entire north-east, urban areas included, for at least a decade, and is continuing to expand in the south-east following coywolves’ arrival there half a century ago. This is astonishing. Purebred coyotes never managed to establish themselves east of the prairies. Wolves were killed off in eastern forests long ago. But by combining their DNA, the two have given rise to an animal that is able to spread into a vast and otherwise uninhabitable territory. Indeed, coywolves are now living even in large cities, like Boston, Washington and New York. According to Chris Nagy of the Gotham Coyote Project, which studies them in New York, the Big Apple already has about 20, and numbers are rising.

 

Even wilier

 

Some speculate that this adaptability to city life is because coywolves’ dog DNA has made them more tolerant of people and noise, perhaps counteracting the genetic material from wolves—an animal that dislikes humans. And interbreeding may have helped coywolves urbanise in another way, too, by broadening the animals’ diet. Having versatile tastes is handy for city living. Coywolves eat pumpkins, watermelons and other garden produce, as well as discarded food. They also eat rodents and other smallish mammals. Many lawns and parks are kept clear of thick underbrush, so catching squirrels and pets is easy. Cats are typically eaten skull and all, with clues left only in the droppings.

 

Thanks to this bounty, an urban coywolf need occupy only half the territory it would require in the countryside. And getting into town is easy. Railways provide corridors that make the trip simple for animals as well as people.

 

Surviving once there, though, requires a low profile. As well as having small territories, coywolves have adjusted to city life by becoming nocturnal. They have also learned the Highway Code, looking both ways before they cross a road. Dr Kays marvels at this “amazing contemporary evolution story that’s happening right underneath our nose”.

 

Whether the coywolf actually has evolved into a distinct species is debated. Jonathan Way, who works in Massachusetts for the National Park Service, claims in a forthcoming paper that it has. He thinks its morphological and genetic divergence from its ancestors is sufficient to qualify. But many disagree. One common definition of a species is a population that will not interbreed with outsiders. Since coywolves continue to mate with dogs and wolves, the argument goes, they are therefore not a species. But, given the way coywolves came into existence, that definition would mean wolves and coyotes should not be considered different species either—and that does not even begin to address whether domestic dogs are a species, or just an aberrant form of wolf.

 

In reality, “species” is a concept invented by human beings. And, as this argument shows, that concept is not clear-cut. What the example of the coywolf does demonstrate, though, is that evolution is not the simple process of one species branching into many that the textbooks might have you believe. Indeed, recent genetic research has discovered that even Homo sapiens is partly a product of hybridisation. Modern Europeans carry Neanderthal genes, and modern East Asians the genes of a newly recognised type of early man called the Denisovans. Exactly how this happened is unclear. But maybe, as with the wolves of southern Ontario, it was the only way that some of the early settlers of those areas could get a date.

 

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The mixing of genes that has created the coywolf has been more rapid, pervasive and transformational than many once thought.


 


Javier Monzón,  studied the genetic make-up of 437 of the animals, in ten north-eastern states. He worked out that, though coyote DNA dominates, a tenth of the average coywolf’s genetic material is dog and a quarter is wolf.


 


The average eastern coyote = 65% coyote, 25% wolf, 10% dog.  


 


The DNA from both wolves and dogs (the latter mostly large breeds, like Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds), brings big advantages, says Dr Kays. At 25kg or more, many coywolves have twice the heft of purebred coyotes. With larger jaws, more muscle and faster legs, individual coywolves can take down small deer. A pack of them can even kill a moose.


Edited by Rusty
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Wow! These critters are trouble.

 

They really are.   And it's as if nobody is even aware they're here they're so adept at being invisible.  I believe the great untold story is how many cats they're likely munching on.  I've definitely noticed an uptick in "MISSING CAT" posters over the last decade or so, and I'm convinced Mr. Fluffy isnt exactly "missing", but rather he became a meal.  

 

I've been toying with the idea of starting to hunt them, because I truly believe we're already overpopulated with coyote, but I have no idea what to do with them, it's not like you eat them like deer.    I also find it frustrating that NJ F&G doesn't seem to study them much.  When was the last year they did a coyote population estimate?

 

You're the only person smart enough to read the Economist on this site.

 

Too liberal these days.

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several years ago one of the state biologist at the deer check stations was talking about this  that they are finding some with more wolf and that overall % was rising and that this really could be dangerous having an animal with the killing instinct coupled with the size and strength of a small wolf to go with the intelligence ,fearlessness  and adaptiveness of a coyote.  scary thought that could be a real serious predator...

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there was no way my 2015 Coyote was 100% Eastern Coyote.  It looks half-wolf...  I wish I had some DNA taken. 

 

 

post-984-0-64844200-1450444959.jpg

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there was no way my 2015 Coyote was 100% Eastern Coyote.  It looks half-wolf...  I wish I had some DNA taken. 

 

Eastern coyotes are the wolf, coyote, dog hybrids.  It's the western coyotes that are pure coyote.  

 

Coywolf and Eastern coyote are two names for the same critter.  

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You're the only person smart enough to read the Economist on this site.

I used to subscribe as well.  The writing was actually quite good and they covered many geographic regions from an economic standpoint like S America and the Asian areas.  The real problem for me was the beginning of the injection of liberal politics and the more pervasive it became the less they focused on actual capitalism, free markets and economic stuff. You know, John M Keynes, Galbraith, Hayek and Friedman.  That's when I stopped subscribing.  

Edited by stratocaster

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there was no way my 2015 Coyote was 100% Eastern Coyote.  It looks half-wolf...  I wish I had some DNA taken.

 

Did you get this bad boy while hunting deer? I really don't know much about hunting predators. I might enjoy crossbow hunting coyote while hanging out in a tree stand. I guess you are not allowed to bait them?

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Guess the percentages coyote/wolf/dog  :hmmmer:   Wonder if I can get it's DNA tested it's still in my freezer?

 

IMG_1829.JPG

Edited by B B
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Did you get this bad boy while hunting deer? I really don't know much about hunting predators. I might enjoy crossbow hunting coyote while hanging out in a tree stand. I guess you are not allowed to bait them?

There is the whole debate about that.  You are allowed to hunt them "incidental to deer hunting".  So, some people say that means you can kill them elevated over corn or any other bait you'd use for deer (i.e. not a rotting carcass) so long as you also have a weapon that is legal for deer during a legal deer season, etc. etc. 

 

There is other language that says you can't be elevated over bait with them (you can bait them, just not within 100 yards elevated).  But, that could be interpreted as only applying during Coyote season when you're targeting them.  It's all very poorly worded and as I understand NJF&G has given conflicting answers to people.  

 

There was a thread on that over at NJH that got really heated (as everything does over there).

 

check it out:  http://www.newjerseyhunter.com/forums/73-general-comments-information/284314-bait-law-change.html

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Did you get this bad boy while hunting deer? I really don't know much about hunting predators. I might enjoy crossbow hunting coyote while hanging out in a tree stand. I guess you are not allowed to bait them?

 

shot 11/9/2015 while deer hunting. Read the regs - most of deer season if not all, you can shoot them while deer hunting. 

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Eastern coyotes are the wolf, coyote, dog hybrids.  It's the western coyotes that are pure coyote.  

 

Coywolf and Eastern coyote are two names for the same critter.  

 

Exactly, they are one and the same.  Coywolf to me sounds as dumb as coydog.  Bottom line is our Eastern coyote has Western yote, domestic dog and wolf DNA which is what differentiates them from pure Western coyotes.  They are not separate from the coyotes you see in the East, they are one and the same.  And just like dogs that are not purebred, each individual takes on certain characteristics from any of the 3 species it is comprised of.  So one may look like a slightly larger Western coyote while another looks like a small wolf and others may look more like your German shepherd.   

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 @jerseybowhunter - wow! that first pic looks like a mini-wolf!

 

I sure would like to hunt them in Wharton with my .223. Couple weeks ago in my deer stand, for the first hour I was there all I heard was the yotes howling and yipping. Turns out I found out no rifle hunting allowed in Wharton  :hmmmer:  I'd try it with a shotgun, but I can't see how you could ever outsmart a yote to come in within shotgun range.

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Some big eastern yotes in burl. county thats for sure. Saw one while driving with the Mrs. near 206/70 and I swear, even if you shaved all of the hair off, it would still look like it was 75 lbs. Ive also seen(hear them a lot) a pack in wharton but those looked like typical 35 pounders. 

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my dad used to regularly trap 60-70lbs coyotes in hunterdon county.  They looked like small german shepherd/wolf mixes.  He used to get a bunch of 40-50 pounders, but 4-5 times a year, he'd have one of those monsters in the trapping shed.  kinda freaky to think about what a pack of them could do

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