|An F1 hybrid between a gray wolf and coyote|
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
|Species:||Canis latrans x Canis lupus|
Hybridizations in captivity
In 2013, a captive breeding experiment conducted in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center Predator Research Facility in Logan, Utah between gray wolves from British Columbia and western coyotes produced six hybrids, making this the very first hybridization case between pure coyotes and northwestern gray wolves. The experiment used artificial insemination and was aimed with the intention of determining whether or not if the sperms of the larger gray wolves in the west are capable of fertilizing the egg cells in the western coyotes. Aside from the historical hybridizations between coyotes and the smaller Mexican gray wolves in the south as well as with eastern wolves and red wolves, grays wolves from the northwestern USA and western provinces of Canada are not known to interbreed with coyotes in the wild, thus prompted the experiment. The six hybrids brought out from this captive breeding included four males and two females. These coywolves were shortly rehomed at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota where they have been living under the care of professional wildlife caretakers from there on. At six months of age, the hybrids were closely monitored and were shown to display both physical and behavourial characteristics from both species as well as some physical similarities to the eastern wolves, whose status as a distinct wolf species or as a genetically distinct subspecies of the gray wolf is still being debated among various researchers. Regardless, the result of this experiment concluded that northwestern gray wolves, much like the eastern wolves, red wolves, Mexican wolves, and domestic dogs, are indeed capable of hybridizing with coyotes. Although this hybridization was brought out through artificial insemination due to the gray wolves' natural hostility towards coyotes which would have caused difficulties in attempting to naturally breed the two rival species together.
Many eastern coyotes (Canis latrans "var.") are coywolves, which despite having a majority of coyote (Canis latrans) ancestry, also descend from either the gray wolf (Canis lupus) or the red wolf (Canis lupus rufus, formerly Canis rufus). They come from a constantly evolving gene pool, and are viewed by some scientists as an emerging coywolf species. The genetic composition and classification of the eastern coyote is debated among scientists.
A study showed that of 100 coyotes collected in Maine, 22 had half or more gray wolf ancestry, and one was 89 percent gray wolf. A theory has been proposed that the large eastern "coyotes" in Canada are actually hybrids of the smaller western coyotes and gray wolves that mated decades ago as the coyotes moved toward New England from their earlier western ranges.
The red wolf
The red wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. Strong evidence for hybridization was found through genetic testing that showed that red wolves have only 5% of their alleles unique from either gray wolves or coyotes. Genetic distance calculations have indicated that red wolves are intermediate between coyotes and gray wolves, and that they bear great similarity to wolf–coyote hybrids in southern Quebec and Minnesota. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA showed that existing red wolf populations are predominantly coyote in origin. However, other scientific evidence may point to the species being evolved from a common ancestor of the coyote and eastern wolf, which would explain similar DNA.
Eastern coyotes in Ontario
On 31 March 2010, a presentation by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources research scientist Brent Patterson outlined key findings that most coyotes in Eastern Ontario are wolf-coyote hybrids, and that the eastern wolves in Algonquin Park are, in general, not inter-breeding with coyotes.
Hybridizations between southern coyotes and Mexican gray wolves
Coyote genes have been found in some wild Mexican gray wolves.  This suggests that, when the subspecies was depleted in the wild from persecutions, some of the male wolves from the remnant populations began seeking potential mates in the female coyotes, with the female coywolf hybrid offspring later backcrossing with other male wolves, while the male hybrids may have backcrossed with female coyotes. Analysis of haplotypes from coyotes in Texas also detected the presence of male wolf introgression such as Y-chromosomes from gray wolves in some of the male coyotes. In an extremely rare case, the study found that one coyote out of seventy individuals from Texas was discovered to carry a mtDNA haplotype derived from a female Mexican gray wolf, implicating that a male coyote had also managed to breed with a female Mexican gray wolf in the wild. The Mexican gray wolf may be the only gray wolf subspecies in the southern states (other than familiaris) to have hybridized with coyotes.
In tests performed on a sample from a taxidermied carcass of what was initially labelled as a chupacabra, DNA analysis conducted by Texas State University professor Michael Forstner showed that it was a coyote. Subsequent analysis by a veterinary genetics laboratory team at the University of California, Davis concluded that, based on the sex chromosomes, the male animal was a coyote–wolf hybrid sired by a male Mexican wolf. It has been suggested that the hybrid animal was afflicted with sarcoptic mange, which would explain its hairless and blueish appearance.
Coywolves have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and the coyote characteristic of lack of fear of human-developed areas. They seem to be bolder and more intelligent than regular coyotes.
Attacks on humans
Any coyote attack within the range of the eastern coyote may also be a coywolf attack. In the most famous and serious of these, Taylor Mitchell was killed in a predatory attack by pack of three coywolves on October 27, 2009 while she was hiking on the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. All other known victims of such attacks have survived.
- Vyhnak, Carola (Aug 15, 2009). "Meet the coywolf". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- Chambers, Steven M. (Jun 2010). "A Perspective on the Genetic Composition of Eastern Coyotes". Northeastern Naturalist: 205–210. doi:10.1656/045.017.0203. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- Oosthoek, Sharon (February 23, 2008). "The decline, fall and return of the red wolf". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- WILSON, P., J. JAKUBAS, AND S. MULLEN. (2004). Genetic status and morphological characteristics of Maine coyotes as related to neighboring coyote and wolf populations. Final report to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund Board, Grant #011-3-7. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Bangor, ME. 58 pp.
- Zimmerman, David. "Eastern Coyotes Are Becoming Coywolves". Caledonian-Record. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- "The red wolf (Canis rufus) – hybrid or not?" (PDF). Montana State University. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- Lee, Philip. "North America's Lone Wolf Unmasked". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Eastern Wolf
- Carola, Vyhnak (August 15, 2009). "Meet the coywolf". Toronto Star. Torstar. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- The complicated science of studying coyotes and hybrid species: Mysteries That Howl and Hunt
- Interbreeding Threatens Rare Species, Experts Say
- Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research http://www.easterncoyoteresearch.com/
- "Meet the Coywolf" episode of PBS' Nature series (premiere 22 Jan 2014): http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/meet-the-coywolf/meet-the-coywolf/8605/