Meet the Coywolf: Nature’s Next Top Dog? — Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Meet the Coywolf: Nature’s Next Top Dog?

Even while pure grey wolf populations continue to recover in North America, the top dog has been, and may continue to be, the coywolf. A hybrid of coyote, wolf, and even wild dog, this species appears to be one of the most successful predators in the United States and Canada, despite the fact it is one of the least protected animals.

The coywolf, is a larger coyote with wolf-like features that can be found in land north of the Great Lakes.

A Heck of a Mutt

The renowned science journalist Moises Velasquez-Manoff wrote in New York Times Magazine that it is largely thought that the coywolf is roughly one-quarter wolf and two-thirds coyote, with the rest being dog – a “canis soup” of mixed genes that Bradley White, a scientist at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, believes is the direct result of desperate and packless grey wolves breeding into coyote populations in the wake of their decline.

“The result has been a creature with enough strength to hunt the abundant woodland deer,” Velasquez-Manoff wrote, “as much as 40 percent larger than the Western coyote, with powerful wolf-like jaw.

Still, a paper published in Heredity, a Nature publication, revealed that Eastern wolf and coyote populations often boast genetic information specific to timber wolf fathers and coyote mothers.

Dr. Lynda M Ulrich, hears the voices (howls) of coywolfs outside here Vermont home regularly, but rather than load a rifle she’s loaded her search window on the internet to learn of a video presentation about coywolfs available on Netflix search “Meet the Coywolf” on Netflix.

Dr. Lynda’s through her website, says “I am now delighted to suspect that coywolves are in my woods. The benefits turn out to far outweigh the drawbacks, and let’s start by taking down those myths that fan our fears.”

First: We are not going to be attacked by marauding coyotes or coywolves.

The bottom line is that 15 to 20 people die of confrontations with dogs every year in the U.S. (from the 4.7 million dog bites per year, 1000 per day go to the hospital) but there have only been 2 deaths in the last 500 years related to coyotes.


Coyotes are actually very small canids, on average 45 pounds (20 kg.) and coywolves averaging about 60 pounds (27 kg.)
That’s the size of my son at age 4. I’m not going to get my socks in a knot over an animal that size.

It also appears that the coywolves are not hunting the way packs of wolves do, so they rarely prey on anything larger than themselves. (Wolves use complex group strategies to take down prey much larger than themselves.)

Coyotes and coywolves are more often searching for food as individuals, taking anything small when the opportunity arises. They eat everything from fruit to mice, rabbits, woodchucks and deer when available.

Here’s a nice infographic:


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