Culture

Hybrid Coywolf on the Rise -- Even in New York City

Apparently when they’re in the mood for love, the wolf isn’t a snob.

Faced with dwindling numbers of sex partners in Ontario over last century or so, wolves started mating with dogs and with coyotes, whose smaller size and solitary ways have allowed them to spread rapidly in former wolf territory now dominated by suburbs and cities.

Not all matings between different species result in fertile offspring — like the mule, the sterile product of a horse mating with a donkey — but in the case of the “coywolf,” the result has been a new subspecies that seems perfectly capable of reproduction and survival.

From an Oct. 31, 2015 article in The Economist:

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 25 kg 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.

Last year, PBS’ “Nature” series went in search of the coywolf, and that included New York City itself. Here’s a short news report on the show:

And if you want to watch the whole documentary, here you go …