The Mating Habits of Wolves

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sean Kelly mentioned the red wolf in his Nov. 12 letter about coyotes and other local canine predator-scavengers, including a "wolf-coyote mix." The red wolf is one of those hybrids.

As the European occupation of North America reduced the wolf population through trophy hunting and habitat destruction, the remaining wolves began mating with coyotes, whose range and numbers were expanding on account of their superior ability to thrive near (and now within) civilization.

In addition, Mr. Kelly's "wolf-dog" is obsolete.

Recent DNA analysis disclosed that wolves and dogs are a single species, differentiated only by traits selected for domesticity such as temperament and dietary preferences. The wolf is a breed of dog -- the oldest.

Wolves, coyotes and dogs continue to hybridize. For curious, intelligent, highly social animals, even inter-species dating is not a taboo. We could learn a lot from them.



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