After we aired Meet the Coywolf last week viewers asked some interesting questions via facebook and twitter. We contacted Biologist Bradley White at Trent University for answers.
What is the range of coywolves?
Bradley White: There are credible reports of them being as far west as Minnesota and Wisconsin. Given their successful move east it is likely that they will spread their range westwards.
Do coywolves mate with dogs?
Bradley White: We have found evidence of a limited amount of dog genetic material in coywolves. It does not happen frequently but it has happened.
Is this a case of 'Burgman's rule' which states that animals of higher latitudes are larger than those at lower latitudes?
Bradley White: To some extent as the size of the animal is selected by the prey base and coywolves occupy land originally held by the eastern wolf Canis lycaon which is a deer predator. This wolf was killed in much of its range and the coywolf has re-occupied much of that territory.
How are coywolves related to red wolves of eastern US?
Bradley White: Red wolves Canis rufus are genetically similar to the eastern wolf Canis lycaon and probably the same species. The coywolf is a hybrid of the eastern wolf and western coyote.
Seeing coywolves living in close proximity of man, it made me wonder if it wasn't something similar to this type of interaction that started the process of domestication many thousands of years ago. Does this mean that coywolves may become a domesticated species in the future?
Bradley White: We have been looking at DNA in bones of first nations archaeological sites. We have not found evidence that coyotes were domesticated but there has been some evidence from the west coast that this occurred. It is thought the dog came over the Bering land bridge with the first colonizers of North America.