The following photos were taken around my hunt camp, near Mont Tremblant, Quebec, about 3 years ago showing what I believed at the time, to be images of an eastern wolf pursuing a whitetail deer.
But was it really a wolf? Could it have been a coyote-wolf hybrid?
Thanks to fishr for putting me on an episode of the Nature of Things with David Suzuki, where they featured the Coywolf, its biology, evolution and how their population continues to expand throughout North America.
It was pointed out that in Algonquin Park alone, 1/3 of the predators examined in a recent study turned out to be the hybrid Coywolf, while the bulk of animals captured were eastern coyotes and, to a lesser degree, the eastern wolf.
The theory is that eastern wolf eradication programs in the early 1900′s created a ‘predator void’ in central and eastern NA, whereby coyotes from the south moved northward to establish a new home range.
As these adaptable southern yotes arrived with few predators to speak of (besides man) and since most of the eastern wolves were gone(but not all), they managed to intermingle with the remaining few wolves in the region.
The eastern wolf began to perceive the eastern coyote as a mate instead of an enemy. Unlike the grey or timber wolf, the eastern wolf will tolerate the eastern coyote.
A distinct hybrid species – the coywolf – was born in 1919!
Not as large or robust as the eastern wolf, but larger and stockier than a typical eastern coyote.
Researchers in Nova Scotia maintain that the coywolf is actually dominating in numbers and growing more aggressive with time. Other researchers in big US Cities like Chicago are studying movements and growth of Urban coywolves.
So, who’s to say what the bulk of the predators are in this region? My guess is, we still have a mix of natural eastern coyotes, some coywolves, and just north of us in the upper valley and across the river, there remains a small number of eastern wolves as in the photos above.
I invite you all to send in your predator pics, so that we may dissect the crap out of them, and come up with a reasonable identity of the animal in question: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Of the hundreds of predator images Ive taken around my house (within Ottawa City Limits) I see very few that fall into the ‘coywolf’ category based on what I now know.