Coywolf — the Hybrid Wolf-Coyote Mix Could Enter Illinois; Are Coywolves Already Here?


Chances are you’ve never seen a wolf-coyote hybrid called the coywolf, but it has arrived in New York. “Meet the Coywolf,” the latest documentary from PBS’ Nature series, premiered on January 22, 2014 at 8pm on PBS stations nationwide, and introduced us to the elusive canines.

Coywolves originated from breeding among wolves and coyotes in eastern Canada, and are now emerging in New York City and on Long Island. Two wildlife biologists, Mark Weckel of the American Museum of Natural History and Christopher Nagy of Mianus River Gorge Preserve, are featured in the PBS program, “Meet the Coywolf.” They joined host Rafael Pi Roman to talk about tracking the hybrid species as part of their Gotham Coyote Project.

There has been an increase in daylight bold appearances of coyotes in the northwest suburbs. Some of the coyotes are quite large with thick fur. You might be wondering if the coywolf is already here. According to the PBS program “Meet the Coywolf” the new hybrid species has mastered the art of blending into the background.

Wisconsin has a thriving population of gray wolves, but the wolves only occasionally have been observed in Illinois. ABC 7 Chicago’s Rob Elgas reported in May 2017 that only two were discovered in 2016.

ABC 7 Chicago reported, the gray wolf is not easy to identify when compared to a coyote. The wolf’s ears are smaller, but the wolf’s body is much bigger — weighing up to 100 pounds. Another difference? Wolves are not fond of coyotes or humans.

Coywolves, which are known to exist in New England, act more like coyotes than wolves.

Ohio State University professor Stan Ghert, interviewed by Rob Elgas, said that a gray wolf could find a mate here with a coyote. Gehrt said currently genetic studies show no hybridization of coyotes with wolves in Chicago.

Another unnamed expert said that it’s not possible that coyotes have mated with wolves in the Chicago area.

Biologists Mark Weckel of the American Museum of Natural History and Christopher Nagy of Mianus River Gorge Preserve, featured in the PBS program “Meet the Coywolf” described a Coywolf that made it to Central Park in New York in 1999. Conservation Biologist Mark Weckel explained that the Coywolf or Eastern Coyote that made it to Central Park had ancestors that bred with wolves and gradually travelled the distance from Ontario. The biologists explained that when you see a Coywolf, it doesn’t mean that it’s mother was a wolf, and its father might have been a coyote. It means somewhere in the Eastern Coyote’s or Coywolf’s family tree, there was an ancestor that was an Eastern Wolf. In New York, the Coywolf has mostly been seen in the Bronx.

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Join Arlington Cardinal’s Coyote and Wildlife Study Group

See also …

METROFOCUS Meet the Coywolf: A New Hybrid Carnivore Roams the City

ABC 7 Chicago Could the ‘coywolf’ hybrid come to Chicago?

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