Super Coyote, the new top dog?by Jonathan DuHamel on Jul. 31, 2012, under Natural History
The coyote (Canis latrans) is a very wily and adaptable predator that occurs in 49 of the 50 states and ranges from Panama to Canada. Doug L. Hoffman, writing at Resilient Earth, notes that a new larger, more aggressive variety of coyote is moving into the northeastern United States. These coyotes are taking over the habits of grey wolves and may be the result of interbreeding. These new coyotes are capable of taking down a deer or caribou. Hoffman calls them wolves in coyote’s clothing.
Hoffman cites a paper in Nature:
Researchers have long known the coyote as a master of adaptation, but studies over the past few years are now revealing how these unimposing relatives of wolves and dogs have managed to succeed where many other creatures have suffered. Coyotes have flourished in part by exploiting the changes that people have made to the environment, and their opportunism goes back thousands of years. In the past two centuries, coyotes have taken over part of the wolf’s former ecological niche by preying on deer and even on an endangered group of caribou. Genetic studies reveal that the coyotes of northeastern America — which are bigger than their cousins elsewhere — carry wolf genes that their ancestors picked up through interbreeding. This lupine inheritance has given northeastern coyotes the ability to bring down adult deer — a feat seldom attempted by the smaller coyotes of the west.
Hoffman notes that “animal species are not fixed, immutable things that have always existed as they are today and cannot evolve into other forms. Nature is always changing and the inhabitants of the natural world are constantly changing with it. When humans change nature, the organisms affected can change in response, just as the coyote is changing.”