Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Have You Seen a Coywolf in New Jersey?


A "coywolf"                                  Photo: forestwander.com via nj,com

If you have heard that New Jersey has coywolves living here, it's true.  But the name coywolf is a new one tagged onto the hybrid animal that is the eastern coyote. The species is not a "coy" (as in shy) wolf, but a hybrid that is mostly coyote. Researchers say they exist in the millions throughout the Northeast, including in NJ.

This cross between a coyote and a wolf used to be considered an eastern coyote, but recent research shows the hybrid name is a more accurate descriptor. Eastern wolves interbred with western coyotes when deforestation and hunting threatened their population. Though coyotes in any form were once unknown in our state, they have spread statewide in the past decade. Their DNA is 65% coyote, 10% dog and 25% wolf, the Economist reported.

The coywolf is about twice the size of a coyote, with larger jaws and bigger muscles that allow it to kill larger prey, such as deer. But coywolves eat pumpkins, watermelons and other garden produce, as well as discarded food, rodents and other small mammals including squirrels and pets.

As with other coyotes, the coywolf has adapted very well to suburban and urban environments. (It is estimated that at least 20 live in New York City.) Urban/suburban habitats offer easy access to trash and easy hunting in areas without underbrush and cover (such as parks, trails and lawns) so that the coywolf needs only half the territory it would require in the countryside. Railway corridors make travel fast and easy. They tend to be more nocturnal in populated areas.

There is some debate in the science community as to whether the coywolf actually has evolved into a distinct species, but the name has traction.  NJ.com has called them "New Jersey's apex predator" and  they were tagged as the new "superpredators" by Field and Stream magazine.

13 comments:

  1. I did see one this fall. I will in Passaic county in a wooded area. I first I thought it was a dog.

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  2. AnonymousJuly 06, 2017

    I have a pack of Coywolf living behind my property. They come onto my property all the time to kill my Chickens. They are not small coyote type animals. These are huge. They look more like wolves than coyote. They are taller than my St. Bernard. You can hear them howling in a pack at night. I am actually beginning to worry about them because they are increasing in number fast and could become a danger to livestock, pets and children soon. I live in Wantage, NJ (Sussex County).

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    1. Please consier filing a wild report on this - see http://endangerednj.blogspot.com/2017/06/reporting-rare-wildlife-sightings-in-nj.html

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  3. Coywolf spotted this morning in Bernardsville. Ran across the street from one neighbor's yard into another yard. Looked similar to a German Shepard but it definitely was not a dog.

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  4. Pretty suware that I saw one early evening in Mt. Laurel, NJ. This is the second time I saw one, the first time I was shocked until I looked online.

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  5. We have seen approximately 3 killed on 80 in Jersey area

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  6. Are these animals dangerous. We had a young man killed by a black bear and yet people don't want to a hunting season. We should be allowed to hunt dangerous predators.

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  7. My son and I have heard the howl from one of these around our way (Williamstown in Gloucester County). Just heard it in the very early hours of the morning. The howl is NOT like that of a domesticated dog. It's very distinct, deeper and longer than the domesticated canine.

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  8. October 2018 while operating paratransit bus on JFK parkway around Livingston/Milburn,NJ, suddenly slowed, when this animal came out of woods, crossed 150 feet in front, easily jumped over highway divider, and kept going toward aquafier areas. Looked like a German shepherd on steroids.
    Several months earlier i saw similar animal standing at a distance at near south end of Eisenhower Parkway, on other side of same area wetlands. Animal did not appear intimidated but rather on lookout.

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  9. i believe i just saw one in the ramapo reservation. it looked like a big wolf. when it saw my dog and myself he began to follow

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  10. I live in middlesex county on a horse farm. We have them here. There used to be two packs in the woods behind the farm but they were hit with mange and many died off. There is now only one pack (I'm not sure if they merged together to form a pack or if one entire pack was wiped out). There are at least 8 animals. Two years ago there were 4 pups that both yipped and howled. They have killed our chickens, ducks and rabbits. They leave the horses alone.

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  11. One ran out of the woods and was running in front of my car on 195-West in Howell Twp (mile marker 29.5) on 1/30/19. I swerved slightly, and it turned and ran back into the woods as quickly as it had run out. There was no impact. I couldn't believe my eyes, but afterwards I recalled seeing carcasses of these animals on 195 several times in the past.

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