In the eastern United States, there exists a hybrid wolf that is known as the Coy-Wolf.
It is cross between eastern grey wolves and possibly red wolves and coyotes. Like dogs, where a larger breed can mate with a smaller breed resulting in a litter of hybrids, wolves and coyotes have the ability to do the same.
Scientists have, for some reason, decided it was a good thing to breed Coy-wolves in captivity, as this WIki article explains:
Northwestern wolf × coyote hybrid experiment
“In 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services conducted a captive-breeding experiment at their National Wildlife Research Center Predator Research Facility in Logan, Utah. Using gray wolves from British Columbia and western coyotes, they produced six hybrids, making this the first hybridization case between pure coyotes and northwestern wolves. The experiment, which used artificial insemination, was intended to determine whether or not the sperm of the larger gray wolves in the west was capable of fertilizing the egg cells of western coyotes. Aside from the historical hybridizations between coyotes and the smaller Mexican wolves in the south, as well as with eastern wolves and red wolves, gray wolves from the northwestern US and western provinces of Canada were not known to interbreed with coyotes in the wild, thus prompting the experiment.
The six resulting hybrids included four males and two females. At six months of age, the hybrids were closely monitored and were shown to display both physical and behavioral characteristics from both species, as well as some physical similarities to the eastern wolves, whose status as a distinct wolf species or as a genetically distinct subspecies of the gray wolf is controversial. Regardless, the result of this experiment concluded that northwestern wolves, much like the eastern wolves, red wolves, Mexican wolves, and domestic dogs, are capable of hybridizing with coyotes.” ~ Wiki
Back in 2014, I began hearing the calls of what I believed was a wolf in the canyon that holds Jenny Creek, just above the Klamath River. It sounded like a lone wolf calling, possibly looking for a date. The call of a wolf is distinctively different than those of the local coyotes.
Then in 2016, I noticed a sharp increase in the predation of deer and our heritage horses. I intensified the frequency and duration of my field studies, hoping to determine the cause of the increased predatory pressure on the local game and horse population which was dropping. Of course predators, like mountain lions and coyotes, are very stealthy and difficult to observe, let alone observing them in the act of taking game, livestock, or the native heritage horses.
Then in 2017, on one of my hundred or so field surveys of the range, wildlife and heritage horses on the Oregon-California border, I happened upon a pack of unusually large-bodied coyotes that had surrounded a small band of horses, on a south-facing hillside.
The band had a new foal and it was apparent these big predators were attempting to scatter the family to pick-off the foal, which was easy prey. As I moved closer to attempt to get a photo (I didn’t have a telephoto lens) the pack spotted me and disappeared into the nearby oak trees. I didn’t get the photo I wanted, but the consolation was the foal survived the incident.
I wondered about this sighting for days, asking myself the question, what kind of coyotes get that big? My answer came in the coming days and months as I continued to drill-down on my question.
Then on a field survey at the edge of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument a few months later, I came across one of the large-bodied coyotes, dead. Someone had shot it, and spiked it to a 6-foot tall post that was part of some legacy ranching structures.
As the photo above shows, this is an abnormally large coyote, which hangs the length of the 6-foot tall telephone pole post. My guess is that this animal probably weighed (live weight) around 70-pounds, and was considerably larger than any coyote I had observed over a period of 60-years in this region.
In the 1960’s when I rode fence and shot predators to protect our calves and lambs at our ranch in the Applegate Valley, I saw many predators from the back of my horse. I never saw a coyote this big. I suspect that this animal (and others like it) were the result of the lonely wolf that I heard calling for a date back in 2014. Seems he had a few successful dates.
Since the eastern U.S. had already used to term ‘coy-wolf’, I wanted to have a term for our version of these hybrids, and so I dubbed our local hybrids ‘Wyotes‘ (western wolf-coyote hybrids)
And this may be the beginning of a trend, since we know there are numerous wolf packs in the area now. If these packs splinter resulting in lonely males, they may find company with coyotes and the resulting population of these robust hybrid predators could grow.
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