Suburban Howls will be published by Dog Ear Publications (Indiana, IL). It should be out around Christmas-time. In it, I detail the possible evolution of coyotes. Note that Gerry Parker in Eastern Coyotes: The Story of Its Success does a great job detailing the evolution of the eastern coyote.
I also have an article coming out in the fall issue of the peer-reviewed journal Northeastern Naturalist.
Basically, the theory is that by the turn of this century there weren’t many wolves left (as everybody knows by now), but there were some. At the same time it is well known that coyotes were moving east from the Great Lakes States. As they reached northern New England and southern Canada they likely met lone wolves. Up until recently we thought they were gray wolves, Canis lupus lycaon. However, recent genetic data indicates that most wolves sampled in that area (including Algonquin Park in Ontario) are actually very similar to red wolves. The thought might now be that there used to have red wolves (or eastern wolves as proposed to be named) all along eastern North America from Florida through New England to SE Canada. It is believed that is what the western coyote mated with.
Then, by natural range expansion, the hybrid started breeding true (ie, back with other hybrids or even western coyotes or red wolves) as they colonized New Hampshire (1940s) and southern New England (Massachusetts late 1950s). Qualitatively it is obvious to me that they are hybrids – just looking at their size, appearance, and characteristics.
We are now just looking at the eastern coyote side of things genetically, .i.e., I am collaborating with Brad White and his team to examine the genetic profile of the eastern coyotes, much like has already been done for wolves in SE Canada. Because there is scant funding for eastern coyote research, there has been a lag to truly understanding the genetic makeup of these cool animals.
The paper that I have coming out in Northeastern Naturalist does definitively show that eastern coyotes are heavier than all other types of coyotes (specifically the coyotes from New England).
Tests are underway to determine what are the wolves that have occasionally been recolonizing the east. Note: there is also supposedly a population of gray, not red, wolves not far from Maine. While some still think that the wolf in SE Canada is a gray wolf, Canis lupus lycaon, it is well known that these wolves are smaller than grays from other areas, except maybe the Mexican wolf. However, one of the biggest problems for the red wolf reintroduction project in North Carolina has been hybridization with coyotes. This is no doubt what happened in northern New England many years ago. As you know, hybridization with western coyotes and the bigger gray wolves does not seem to occur.
At any rate, it is bewildering that the northern New England states allow unlimited killing of such closely related species. People out of New England might think that we are very “liberal” – but on the ground in New England, with policies like that for coyotes, that isn’t really the case. Hopefully those states will get sued for not protecting the wolves.