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A New Breed

A typical gray wolf
A typical gray wolf
Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images

There is a new breed on our horizon. Well, "new" considering the usual timeline for new, distinct species to assert themselves. It is a hybrid between the eastern wolf, and the eastern coyote, as opposed to the western wolf and western coyote. The difference is that the eastern wolf can breed with the eastern coyote. The western wolf does not mix with the western coyote, and will even prey upon the coyote as a food source. The eastern gray wolf, and the subspecies of the red wolf can and will mate with the eastern coyote. The result is a larger, more intelligent, more wily, more aggressive, more intimidating canid hybrid: the "coywolf". Scientists speculate that this interbreeding happened when colonists began immigrating to the New World, clearing forests, building, and settling the regions previously occupied and claimed by the wolf. The wolves were driven south, then west, then north into Canada. Along the way, in an effort to survive their loss of lives and habitat, the wolf began to breed with the the smaller coyote. The coywolf has a larger skull, and brain capacity. Its teeth are spaced closer together, its tail is fuller, more like a wolf's tail, and their body size is larger than a coyote. The interbreeding of a red wolf and a coyote begets a coywolf that is a bit smaller than the gray wolf and coyote hybrid, but still larger than a coyote. These hybrids are part of a continuing study in Algonquin Park, in Canada where they reside in the most numbers, but the numbers are swelling and spreading further and further west and south. The remarkable thing about this "new breed" is that it has no fear of humans. It is highly adaptable, and is beginning to invade and make its dens in cities. Even the center of a highway cloverleaf provides a safe haven for this beast. No humans invade that space and the traffic provides an effective barrier surrounding the den; keeping out other larger beasts that might prey on its young. Of course, the coywolf has to navigate across the lanes of speeding cars itself, but being more intelligent than the average coyote, the animal has pretty much figured out when and how to negotiate a route to its den safely. The coywolf has been infiltrating cities as far west as Chicago, and has been spotted as far south as New York City in Central Park. The Coywolf isn't as shy as its cousins. There are videos of it exploring the front yards, porches and steps of city dwellers. You can spot it along the edge of freeways, foraging for food. A curious car pulls over to take a look, and tosses a sandwich to the beast. This emboldens the coywolf to be less afraid of humans. All it takes is one curious onlooker to toss that tasty morsel, but you know that it's not just one passerby. Humans become a food source for the coywolf...and not just for the sandwiches he tosses them. Several people have been bitten, and at least one jogger has been killed by this indiscriminate predator. So the question becomes, "Have we lost our supremacy at the top of the food chain? Are we now to be stalked and hunted for food by this new fearless competitor?" One begins to think twice about letting their children play in the park.