State & Union: Scientists: Eastern coyotes becoming more ‘wolflike’

Coyotes (Canis latrans) have for some time been a part of nature in the Twin Tiers, alongside the popular notion that wolf blood runs in their vein – a theory which emerged from the bigger size of the Eastern coyote over its Western kinfolk.

Recently, the genetic tests carried out by scientists revealed that they are really a combination of coyote, dog, and wolf.

Also, Eastern coyotes may be on the increase like wolves, according to a Press release a week ago. The hybrid has extended its territory and flourished during the last 80 years, and its wolflike genes are making a bigger, more versatile creature prepared for survival along the Atlantic coast, researchers say.

Coyote-Human coexistence

The wolflike attributes mean people in the region must figure a way to coexist with these carnivorous predators, researchers and wildlife experts said.

It’s terrible news for deer. “As the coyotes become more wolflike, they may turn out to be more dangerous predators,” researchers say. The genetic changes also look suitable for their ability to continue flourishing in populated regions, which include Cape Cod, New York and the deer-rich woods of Pennsylvania.

Adaptive predators

The Eastern coyotes are one of the nineteen subspecies of the coyote family, which are known be adaptable creatures that can live anywhere from the fields of Los Angeles to Florida swamps.

Also, it could eventually mean that the coyotes would assume the role of the most dangerous predators on the Coast – one that was played by wolves in the past and never occupied by a single predominant species. The Eastern subspecies from Ohio, is believed to have moved toward the Northeast about 8 decades ago, assuming control over the woods possessed by wolves and breeding with other bigger animals.

They stopped overlapping with wolves, but maintained 8 to 25% wolf genes, and also 8 to 11% dog genetics due to the previous hybridization with feral dogs, said Roland Kays, a biologist.

The Eastern coyotes got their size and weight (about 35 pounds) from interbreeding with wolves.

Researchers got confirmation that the wolf blood plays a crucial role in the survival of the Eastern coyotes, Kays says. Also, they may increasingly grow in number.

Residents are worried and fearful that the carnivorous predators could become a big threat to the lives of humans. However, coyotes are generally frightened around people.

There has been just one recorded deadly Eastern coyote assault. 19-year old Canadian artist, Taylor Mitchell was mauled by Eastern coyotes in 2009.