The Coywolf—Endangered Wolves Are Mating With Coyotes To Create A New Hybrid Animal

North America is witnessing the birth of a new animal, and it's called the "coywolf." The coywolf is the result of wolves mating with coyotes, a product of the wolves' natural habitat being destroyed by deforestation for farming which has led to dwindling populations.

This, combined with the fact that this deforestation has allowed coyotes to move from the prairies to these areas, has meant that the wolves have begun breeding with coyotes and the dogs that come with the farmers—the result is this a hybrid species that has DNA from all three.

The Economist has recently written about this new species, detailing why its managed to survive when most new species would die out due to weakened genes.

"Interbreeding between animal species usually leads to offspring less vigorous than either parent—if they survive at all" it notes. "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 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."

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The coywolf

The article also notes that, the combined DNA of the different animals has meant the coywolf are larger, and stronger, than 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." Gulp.

Coywolves have also migrated to the cities and have been spotted in Boston, Washington, and New York where they root through discarded food at night. They've also been know to eat rodents, small mammals, and, um, cats.

"Cats are typically eaten skull and all, with clues left only in the droppings." writes The Economist.

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PBS' Nature series made a documentary last year called Meet the Coywolf on the emergence of this new species.

It gives more insight into how they came about, their habitats, and what their future is. You can watch the full PBS documentary below. PBS also have some infographics that give more details about the animal.