The new super predator in your backyard.
Wolves, it seems, 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, to begin 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 “coy wolf”.
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.
Coywolves also tend to be as omnivorous as coyotes, eating
just about anything, which naturally gives them a competitive
advantage. 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.
The moral of this story is to keep your kids indoors or well watched in the territory of these hungry beasts.
First one that I ever saw in Western PA was sometime back in the 1990s. I was heading to a buddy's house to pick him up for a fishing trip at about 4AM. The thing came out of an apple orchard and ran for about 25 yards up the road, slightly in front of my car before popping back into the tree line. Pretty big sucker. About the size of a German Shepard. I didn't know what it was until there was an article in the newspaper a few weeks later.ReplyDelete
Yep, the coyotes we have around here are pure bred and about 60% the size of a German Shepherd.Delete
What this tells me is that coyotes, wolves and dogs are not different species, but different breeds of one species.ReplyDelete
Yup, they think my back yard is their highway. They're huge and very "wolfy" looking, especially if you only get a glimpse. I have pictures of one trotting through my backyard at about 4:30 in the afternoon in April a couple years ago. Easily over 50lbs and very wolf like till you got a good look at the muzzle structure.ReplyDelete