More information on Eastern Coyotes--kinda long


RIP 1938-2020
9 Years
Jul 6, 2010
From this morning (October 14,2010) Binghamton Press

Commentary: Eastern coyotes have wolf ancestry, not dog DNA
By Dave Henderson •Correspondent • October 13, 2010, 6:15 pm

" Theories about the origin of eastern coyotes are about as popular as the animals themselves are unpopular among hunters -- and pet owners -- in the Southern Tier.

Back when I frequently encountered the experts along Mahogany Ridge (note to those younger than 50: ancient jargon for "barrooms"), the subjects were often referred to as "coydogs" and everyone knew that they were the product of an amorous coyote from God Knows Where and a dog.

Today, biologists are sufficiently well versed to assure us that this was not the case. But the exact origin of the eastern coyote is still a bit foggy.

Most biologists today believe that the eastern coyote is a result of crossbreeding between western coyotes and Canadian wolves. Historians argue that the eastern coyotes are the "wolves" that were here when colonists arrived.

One thing is clear. The eastern coyote is more than just a coyote. The Pennsylvania Game Commission notes that in 1991, Robert Wayne of the University
of California and Niles Lehman of the Scripps Research Institute of California showed through DNA analysis that eastern coyotes have wolf genes.

More recent research has affirmed this.

But when did they interbreed? No one knows. No one probably ever will.

We do know that Roland Kays, Curator of Mammals of the New York State Museum, once researched the genetics of more than 700 eastern coyotes (east of
Ohio to Maine; north to Quebec; south to New Jersey and Pennsylvania).

He found that 20 percent had a type of DNA typical to wolves from eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region. Only one sample out of 700-plus was dog-like.

He also measured 196 skulls from the northeast, confirming that they were larger than their western cousins, especially in being extra wide.

Biologically, it appears that larger skulls and jaws allow the animals to hunt and eat deer. The increased consumption of deer in the east is one of the prime ecological differences from western coyotes.

Also eastern coyotes are sexually dimorphic, with males being larger than females. This dimorphism is also seen in wolf populations, but not in western coyotes.

The theory is that hybridization among wolves, coyotes and their resultant hybrid offspring has produced what he calls a "hybrid swarm."

Prevailing biological theory is that the coyotes coming from the north encountered wolf populations and the resultant hybridization of bigger, more aggressive animals moved about five times faster than the one coming through Ohio, which never encountered wolf populations. That group, from their genetic DNA patterns, never faced hybridization or major barriers to their eastern movements.

Western New York and western Pennsylvania are now sort of a contact zone between the two groups, and results will add another chapter to evolving story of the eastern coyote.

Further reading

Interested in reading more about eastern coyote? Check out the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website (, click on the Wildlife dropdown menu, then select "Mammals," and click on "Coyote." '
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Kiss My Grits...
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 19, 2008
Western MA
Yep.. we call them coydogs here too..
but they are HUGE... not like the small coys i see in the western states..
I bet they are mixed with wolf..


Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 15, 2009
They are truly impressive animals in more ways than one. We have a small population of coyotes that live in our area. The pack is about 5-10 strong depending on the time of year. My neighbor has been hunting for the den sites of our resident coyotes for over 15 years to permanently remove them. Fifteen years. And he has never been able to locate them. We have a lot of heavily forested acreage, but he should have been able to locate them long before now. He can't, though. Other neighbors, including myself, have also been searching, but no luck. Coyotes are not only huge around here, but they are very crafty. Smart as the smartest dog.

Truly impressive animals. I just wish they didn't like chicken.


9 Years
May 2, 2010
Great, just what we don't need here! The Conservation Dept. here in MO wants to re-introduce Elk and Wolves to the state. We already have a small population of red wolves here, but I have not seen one for about 15 years now. Lots of woods, bluffs, and caves around here for these guys to den up. About 10 years ago I was out deer hunting. I was sitting with my back to a large oak tree. Here comes a rather large, and yellowish colored coyote. Awfully healthy looking boy, I thought to myself. I spoke to him, "get outta here", and he stops and sniffs the air. Instead of running off, he stood there and growled at me. Not a wise decision Mr. C.! He finally trotted off, only to circle around and show up in back of me, and about 60 yards away. Had one eye on him, and the other on the big buck in the bottom. Was just about to take my shot at the buck, when that coyote went after the buck, and both went running off through the woods. Never saw a coyote take on a deer that size! Should've plucked him off when he growled at me!
That coyote was every bit as tall as my male German Shepherd, and probably weighed close to 85 lbs. or better. Of course, Cons. Dept. denied any wolves or mixes in the area for more than 150 years. Hmm, that's what they said about cougars too...that is until people started having them show up on their game cams!


14 Years
Mar 16, 2008
Southern Columbia County NY
Interesting. I also heard that the dec released Gray Wolves around here a while back, amongst other things. The morning we went to the Cobleskill poultry show, I was outside putting our golden retriever in her run and I heard one right out by out mailbox.
We got a pair of coyotes right behind the house on one of out trail cams. Plus, we can hear them practically every night. (uploading the pics)
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11 Years
Apr 28, 2008
SW of Greenwood, INDIANA
We don't allow stray dogs to run in packs without being picked up, taken to the pounds, and exterminated.
Coyotes of whatever parentage, running in dangerous packs, being overly populated, and carriers of every kind of disease, need to be thinned out by being SHOT. PERIOD!


RIP 1938-2020
9 Years
Jul 6, 2010
As long as they aren't bothering you, leave them alone they'll keep others out that might. BTW, where in Columbia Co? I grew up in the southern part--Germantown.

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