By Deborah Grace
While our Earth is now understood to go through several phases of ecology, the climate change we are currently experiencing is largely manmade. And, along with temperature increases, species are also changing. For example, the coywolf—a hybrid animal which is part coyote and part wolf—also known as the Eastern coyote has come to thrive as the biggest predator in the Northeast US region.
According to a statement in The Economist: “The animal’s range has encompassed America’s entire north-east, urban areas included, for at least a decade, and is continuing to expand in the south-east following coywolves’ arrival there half a century ago. This is astonishing. Purebred coyotes never managed to establish themselves east of the prairies. Wolves were killed off in eastern forests long ago. But by combining their DNA, the two have given rise to an animal that is able to spread into a vast and otherwise uninhabitable territory.”
While the species is definitely notable, though, scientists are reluctant to name it as an entirely new species. Jonathan Way—of the Massachusetts National Park Service—says that there is enough evidence to name them as such. After all, their DNA consists of about one-quarter wolf with two-thirds coyote and the remainder from domestic canine DNA.
However, Ohio State University coyote expert and Professor of wildlife ecology, Stan Gehrt, comments: “They are eastern coyotes. They aren’t really different from other coyotes, other than they have a little bit of genetic difference. I’ve trapped and tracked hundreds of Midwestern coyotes and a pretty good sample of eastern coyotes in Nova Scotia, and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.”