Posts Tagged ‘North American wolf’

This photograph is of a wolf trapped near Gillham, Arkansas in 1929.

The photo can be found in the National Archives in Washington, D.C, and it also appears in Bruce Hampton’s The Great American Wolf, which is history of the wolf in North America.  It came out in 1997, just a few years after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone.

The caption under this photo in Hampton’s text says that this animal was a “red wolf” that was captured in Arkansas in 1929. The area listed in the caption is in the  Ouachita Mountains, which stretch from western Arkansas to southeastern Oklahoma.

This animal had been captured, and then someone had bound its jaws shut with wire. Often, the dogs would be set on wolves in this particular position. On other occasions, they would turn the wolves loose and let them die of dehydration or hyperthermia.

This particular animal is of interest because it is a photo of what is reported to have been a red wolf.

However, it has none of the coyote-type features we associate with the creatures we call “red wolves” today. It has a broad muzzle, just like we see in other wolves, and its ears are relatively small. The skull is also broader and rounded, just as we normally see in wolves of other subspecies.

This animal may have been red in color, but its phenotype suggests that it was all or mostly wolf– unlike modern red wolves, which look like slightly larger coyotes and, indeed, are almost entirely of that ancestry.

This wolf is not too different from the one that Audubon and Bachman described as the “Red Texan wolf.”

This subspecies of wolf no longer exists, so we really can’t say much about it. It’s likely been absorbed into coyotes by now.   The so-called modern red wolves are coyotes that have likely also absorbed a very similar wolf in Louisiana and East Texas. They just happen to have a bit more wolf in them than normal coyotes that have absorbed similar wolf populations.

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Jacques Mallet killed what he thought was a giant coyote at Saint Simon on New Brunswick's Acadian Peninsula. Because it weighed 86 pounds, it would have been the largest coyote on record, but everyone, including Mallet, thinks this animal is a wolf. DNA tests have been ordered to see exactly what it is.

The initial report from the CBC found that Jacques Mallet was getting ready to kill his second coyote. He had been hunting the robust, deer hunting Eastern coyotes of the New Brunswick for two years now.   He’d killed one last year, and now, he was stalking Canis latrans— “the barking dog”– at St. Simon on the Acadian Peninsula.

The story that follows starts out routine but soon becomes a bit screwy:

He saw a big one, fired, dropped it, but when he came upon his kill, he was shocked at what lay before him.

The great gray canid that lay before him was massive– much larger than any coyote ever seen in these parts or anywhere else.

The CBC reports Mallet is almost certain that this animal is a wolf:

“I said, ‘Oh my God, maybe that’s not a coyote. That’s a wolf. I don’t know what it is.’ I was quite surprised.”

Wolves are officially extinct in the province. They officially disappeared in 1876, so if this animals is determined to be a wolf, then Mallet will have to give it up to the provincial wildlife authorities.

However, one should keep in mind that virtually all coyotes in Eastern North America are part wolf, and virtually all wolves in Eastern Canada have coyote mtDNA, which has led to some foolish assertions about these animals– most specifically that they represent a unique “Eastern wolf” species.

So I hope they aren’t just doing an mtDNA test.

That is almost guaranteed to result in this animal being declared a coyote.

Y-chromosome and microsatellite analyses are going to be needed to determine this animal’s identity.

But wolves are coming back in Eastern Canada and in Northern New England.  Reintroductions are not necessary.

They are going to come on their own volition.

And that’s the best way.

If wolves come into a region, they are going to know from their experiences on the way what the proper behavior is and how to avoid humans.

Wolves can be an in area and cause very few problems, as we’ve seen with Germany’s wolves.

But if they are introduced, there will always be attacks on whether one has introduced the wrong subspecies and these wolves may or may not know how to behave in a new environment. And they might start killing stock.

I’m only in favor of wolf reintroduction if it is absolutely impossible for wolves to get to a region on their own.

Mexican wolves were extinct in the wild until relatively recently, so they had to be reintroduced.

This wolf in New Brunswick suggests that wolves are more than capable of recolonizing the East on their own.

And I really don’t see what’s wrong with that.

Even if these wolves do occasionally bred with coyotes in the wild, this hybridization occurred in the past, even before European colonization. The wolves of the Western Great Lakes have an introgression of coyote genes that was estimated to have happened between 600 and 900 years ago.

Nature has created a species complex between wolves and coyotes in North America.

It’s just very hard for people to see that there is not hard edge separating these two species.

It’s muddled.

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