October 20, 2019

Meta-Analysis of Coyote Diet Reveals Differences by Geographical Region

Abstract

It has been posited that coyotes (Canis latrans) in the Northeast eat more deer than those in the Midwest or other parts of the country due to their increased size. Further, it has also been posited that Northeastern coyotes do not frequently eat small mammals, creating a trophic cascade that increases the incidence of Lyme disease. However, no one has synthesized the many studies of coyote diets to quantitatively test these hypotheses. We examined 18 studies of the diet of coyotes from the Northeast and the Midwest and conducted a meta-analysis to test the hypothesis that the diet of coyotes in the Northeast differs from that of coyotes in the Midwest. Our results show that deer occur significantly more in the diet of Northeastern coyotes than in the diet of Midwestern coyotes, while small mammals occur significantly less. The occurrence of rabbits, hares, birds, vegetation, and fruit do not differ significantly by region. This supports the hypothesis that Northeastern coyotes, due to their larger size and hybridization with wolves, are better adapted at hunting large prey. Although Northeastern coyotes eat fewer small mammals than Midwestern coyotes, small mammals are still a common component of the Northeastern coyote diet. Thus the abundance of Northeastern coyotes is not likely to be positively correlated to the incidence of Lyme disease.<<<Read More>>>

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Widespread, long-term admixture between grey wolves and domestic dogs across Eurasia and its implications for the conservation status of hybrids

Abstract

Hybridisation between a domesticated species and its wild ancestor is an important conservation problem, especially if it results in the introgression of domestic gene variants into wild species. Nevertheless, the legal status of hybrids remains unregulated, partially because of the limited understanding of the hybridisation process and its consequences. The occurrence of hybridisation between grey wolves and domestic dogs is well documented from different parts of the wolf geographic range, but little is known about the frequency of hybridisation events, their causes and the genetic impact on wolf populations. We analysed 61K SNPs spanning the canid genome in wolves from across Eurasia and North America and compared that data to similar data from dogs to identify signatures of admixture. The haplotype block analysis, which included 38 autosomes and the X chromosome, indicated the presence of individuals of mixed wolf–dog ancestry in most Eurasian wolf populations, but less admixture was present in North American populations. We found evidence for male?biased introgression of dog alleles into wolf populations, but also identified a first?generation hybrid resulting from mating between a female dog and a male wolf. We found small blocks of dog ancestry in the genomes of 62% Eurasian wolves studied and melanistic individuals with no signs of recent admixed ancestry, but with a dog?derived allele at a locus linked to melanism. Consequently, these results suggest that hybridisation has been occurring in different parts of Eurasia on multiple timescales and is not solely a recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, wolf populations have maintained genetic differentiation from dogs, suggesting that hybridisation at a low frequency does not diminish distinctiveness of the wolf gene pool. However, increased hybridisation frequency may be detrimental for wolf populations, stressing the need for genetic monitoring to assess the frequency and distribution of individuals resulting from recent admixture.<<<Read More>>>

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Multilocus Detection of Wolf x Dog Hybridization in Italy, and Guidelines for Marker Selection

*Editor’s Note* – The following study should come as no surprise to those with knowledge and an honest approach to scientific wolf study. Hybridization between canine species is something that happens in nature, but is exceptionally enhanced by several events, one of which is, of course, human intervention and manipulation. Wolves with the least amount of hybridization were found in geographically isolated regions. Expanding populations of wolves increases the likelihood of hybridization and that is magnified when such expansions force wolves into human-settled landscapes and especially where dogs exist and are free ranging – the more dogs the greater the risk of hybridization.

This study confirms what many of us have been saying for several years; that forcing or introducing wolves into areas that are not geographically isolated (to protect the species), promotes hybridization, which in turns leads to the destruction of the wolf gene. 

Teddy Roosevelt wrote a great deal about his observances of different species of wild canines and determined that, at that time in history, wolf species were geographically isolated, and, as such, contributed to his and other’s ability to distinguish wolf species, i.e. big wolf and little wolf.

As a society with responsibility to care for our animal species, rational thought should lead us to conclude that we should be working hard to do what we can to keep wolves – those with the least amount of mixed genes – geographically isolated. The worst thing we can do is a continuation of forcing more and more wolves onto the landscape, thus heavily promoting hybridization and a destruction of the species. Or, we can do as some have suggested: simply acknowledging that all wild dogs are a species that should be protected regardless of its genetic composition. 

That makes absolutely no sense.

<<<Read Entire Study>>>

Abstract
Hybridization and introgression can impact the evolution of natural populations. Several wild canid species hybridize in nature, sometimes originating new taxa. However, hybridization with free-ranging dogs is threatening the genetic integrity of grey wolf populations (Canis lupus), or even the survival of endangered species (e.g., the Ethiopian wolf C. simensis). Efficient molecular tools to assess hybridization rates are essential in wolf conservation strategies. We evaluated the power of biparental and uniparental markers (39 autosomal and 4 Y-linked microsatellites, a melanistic deletion at the b-defensin CBD103 gene, the hypervariable domain of the mtDNA control-region) to identify the multilocus admixture patterns in wolf x dog hybrids. We used empirical data from 2 hybrid groups with different histories: 30 presumptive natural hybrids from Italy and 73 Czechoslovakian wolfdogs of known hybrid origin, as well as simulated data. We assessed the efficiency of various marker combinations and reference samples in admixture analyses using 69 dogs of different breeds and 99 wolves from Italy, Balkans and Carpathian Mountains. Results confirmed the occurrence of hybrids in Italy, some of them showing anomalous phenotypic traits and exogenous mtDNA or Y-chromosome introgression. Hybridization was mostly attributable to village dogs and not strictly patrilineal. The melanistic b-defensin deletion was found only in Italian dogs and in putative hybrids. The 24 most divergent microsatellites (largest wolf-dog FST values) were equally or more informative than the entire panel of 39 loci. A smaller panel of 12 microsatellites increased risks to identify false admixed individuals. The frequency of F1 and F2 was lower than backcrosses or introgressed individuals, suggesting hybridization already occurred some
generations in the past, during early phases of wolf expansion from their historical core areas. Empirical and simulated data indicated the identification of the past generation backcrosses is always uncertain, and a larger number of ancestryinformative markers is needed.

Conclusions
The frequency of backcrosses or introgressed individuals (87.5%) between wolf and dog is far higher than the frequency of F1 and F2 hybrids (12.5%), suggesting that hybridization events already occurred in Italy some generations in the past. Probably this happened during the early phases of population re-expansion in Italy, when wolves moved from their historical core areas in the central-southern Apennines and colonized the northern Apennine mountains and lower hills [61]. Theoretical expectations [97] and empirical findings [29,43] indicate that the risk of hybridization is higher in the periphery of wolf distributions in human-dominated landscapes, where wolf populations are less dense, free-ranging dogs are more abundant and early dispersing wolves have more probabilities to meet and mate with dogs. Expanding wolf populations will inevitably spread further into anthropogenically altered areas, where settlement density, infrastructure and the presence of agricultural activities will likely increase traffic
casualties, illegal wolf killings. Consequently high pack turnover can contribute to further raise hybridization frequency. These findings suggest that: 1) expanding wolf populations may experience higher hybridization risks than stable populations; 2) the dynamics of hybridization and introgression will change through time, with a maximum expectancy of hybridization during the early phases of the colonization waves, followed by the subsequent spread of hybrids and the generation of backcrosses within wild populations. The spatial and temporal dynamics of hybridization and backcrossing should be conditioned by landscape features, anthropogenic factors, wolf and feral dog initial
population density and colonization rates. These variables could be modelled using landscape genetic tools to reconstruct maps of hybridization risks, thus providing important resources for the monitoring and management of wolf populations in Europe.

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Thoughts on the Eastern Coyote/Wolf/Dog/Hybrid Mongrel

“Because venison accounts for one third of their diet, coyotes may have replaced automobiles as the principle deer predator in the Northeast.”

“…the ancestry of the average eastern coyote is 64% western coyote, 26% wolf, and 10% dog.”

“North America supports two species of gray wolf, a western and an eastern species, and that a third species, the so-called red wolf of the Southeast, is merely a blend of gray wolf and coyote – and the dark coat of some North American wolves may be an artifact of crossbreeding with the dogs that accompanied the first humans into the New World.”

“This canine mélange suggests that the biologic definition of a species, which once leaned heavily on reproductive isolation, is shifting.”<<<Read More>>>

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Using VooDoo to Justify Screw-ups With Illegal “Wolf” Introduction

*Editor’s Note* – This is mostly just nonsense…BS actually. Even the concept is foolishness and the lack of intelligent reasoning is void. The idea that there could actually be any kind of “control” over an experiment, even of this size, to have any concept of what is taking is place, is bunk.

First, there is no such thing as a “pure” red wolf. (As a matter of fact, by scientific definition, there is no such thing as a “pure” wolf, or coyote. We just dumb down the requirements for the money.) Most scientists believe the red wolf is nothing more than a cross-bred wild dog. Even the canine animals the Feds “introduced” were half-tame, mixed-bred, dogs. The nonsense is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is spending millions and millions of dollars attempting to illegally dump mongrel, semi-wild dogs into North Carolina, calling them red wolves and hiding behind the dysfunctional Endangered Species Act claiming they (USFWS) is required by law to “recover” the red wolf.

The latest science on coyotes, wolves, cross-breeds and hybridization shows the impossibility to protect separate species (if in fact any of them are) from cross breeding because there are too many of the beasts to begin with. With millions of coyotes/cross-breeds and tens of thousands of “wolves” (cross-breeds) the more they grow and are protected the more it is impossible to separate species regardless of how many thousands of “placeholder” coyotes are introduced. (Notice the misleading title placed on sterilized coyotes.) One would think that the Environmentalist would be fighting to actually ensure fewer canines in order to preserve the gene, but they are not. Instead, they are hinting toward continued protection and dealing with the result, naming it a new species. Is that science or politics?

Presenting some fanciful, non-workable, ridiculous notion that cross breeding can be prevented by sterilizing coyotes and placing them between packs of viable wolves and coyotes is about as smart as putting up a fence on the Mexican border thinking it will stop illegal immigration.

It is my opinion that this experiment is nothing more than a means of distracting and somehow substantiating the disaster the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created in North Carolina. Now that they have screwed everything up in a really bad way – bad for the people/property owners and bad for the wildlife – the USFWS is going to attempt to legitimize their incompetency.

In response to this announcement, Dr. Valerius Geist commented, “Grasping for straws! And what a muddle to begin with. How much manpower will be required to keep track of “placeholders” and mating pairs? One biologist per red-wolf breeding pair? and are red wolves actually wolves?”

This nonsense deserves the “Golden Horse Excrement Award.”

horsepoopsaving

One of the most endangered species is the red wolf, Canis rufus. Reintroduction of the red wolf began in 1987, but in 1993 hybridization between coyotes (Canis latrans) and wolves was documented. To reduce genetic introgression, coyotes and coyote–wolf hybrids were captured, sterilized, and released as “placeholders”. Placeholders held territories until either displaced or killed by a wolf, or management personnel removed them before releasing a wolf. We evaluated the placeholder concept by examining the number of animals sterilized and released, likelihood of displacement by a wolf, factors influencing displacements, territory fidelity of placeholders, and survival rates and causes of mortality of placeholders and wolves. Of the 182 placeholders, 125 were coyotes and 57 were hybrids. From 1999 to 2013, 51 placeholders were displaced or killed by wolves, and 16 were removed by management personnel. Thus, 37% of the placeholders were displaced leading to occupancy by a wolf. Most displacements occurred in winter (43%) and were always by the same sex. Males were more likely to be displaced than females. Home range characteristics influencing the probability of displacement included home-range size (i.e., more placeholders displaced from larger home ranges) and road density (i.e., more placeholders displaced from home ranges with lower road density). Annual survival of placeholders was higher than wolves in 12 of 14 years, with cause-specific mortality similar among wolves and placeholders. Placeholders provided territories for wolves to colonize, yet reduced the production of hybrid litters, thereby limiting genetic introgression to < 4% coyote ancestry in the wolf population.

Source: Using the “placeholder” concept to reduce genetic introgression of an endangered carnivore

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From Wolves to Dogs, and Back: Genetic Composition of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

Abstract

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a unique dog breed that originated from hybridization between German Shepherds and wild Carpathian wolves in the 1950s as a military experiment. This breed was used for guarding the Czechoslovakian borders during the cold war and is currently kept by civilian breeders all round the world. The aim of our study was to characterize, for the first time, the genetic composition of this breed in relation to its known source populations. We sequenced the hypervariable part of the mtDNA control region and genotyped the Amelogenin gene, four sex-linked microsatellites and 39 autosomal microsatellites in 79 Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs, 20 German Shepherds and 28 Carpathian wolves. We performed a range of population genetic analyses based on both empirical and simulated data. Only two mtDNA and two Y-linked haplotypes were found in Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs. Both mtDNA haplotypes were of domestic origin, while only one of the Y-haplotypes was shared with German Shepherds and the other was unique to Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs. The observed inbreeding coefficient was low despite the small effective population size of the breed, possibly due to heterozygote advantages determined by introgression of wolf alleles. Moreover, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog genotypes were distinct from both parental populations, indicating the role of founder effect, drift and/or genetic hitchhiking. The results revealed the peculiar genetic composition of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, showing a limited introgression of wolf alleles within a higher proportion of the dog genome, consistent with the reiterated backcrossing used in the pedigree. Artificial selection aiming to keep wolf-like phenotypes but dog-like behavior resulted in a distinctive genetic composition of Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs, which provides a unique example to study the interactions between dog and wolf genomes.<<<Read More>>>

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If It Looks Like a Duck, Walks Like a Duck, It’s a Red Wolf

“The red wolf had always been a puzzle,” Robert Wayne, a biologist at UCLA, told me. In 1991, he and a team of researchers set out to decipher the red wolf’s origins. At that time, some scientists believed the red wolf was more closely related to the coyote, while others believed it was more like the gray wolf. But the only available evidence was a handful of fossils and historical records. Few scientists had ever worked with living red wolves. Wayne and his team wanted to settle the question of the red wolf’s origins once and for all. “I was hoping to be the first person to sequence DNA from a red wolf,” said Susan Jenks, a biologist at Russell Sage College who co-authored the analysis.

Wayne and Jenks started with blood samples from red wolves living in captivity in American zoos, focusing on 4 percent of the genome. When they sequenced the DNA, however, they were mystified. Every section of red wolf DNA matched almost exactly with the equivalent section of DNA from two other animals: the gray wolf and the coyote. They found no part of the red wolf’s genome that was unique. “I kept running the analyses and checking and double-checking for contamination,” Jenks said. The conclusion, however, was inescapable. “Finally it occurred to me it would make sense that they’re hybrids,” Jenks said.

Source: What’s a Species, Anyways? | New Republic

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Is this coyote-wolf hybrid taking over North America?

And this sort of mixing occurs beyond the northeastern US. Coyotes, Mexican wolves and red wolves are known to interbreed in Texas. In North Carolina, coyotes mix with grey wolves, red wolves and domestic dogs. Eastern wolves pass genes between coyotes and western wolves by breeding with both in eastern Canada. Meanwhile, domestic dog genes pop up in Australian dingoes, European grey wolves and Ethiopian wolves.

Source: Is this coyote-wolf hybrid taking over North America? | animal-behaviour | Earth Touch News

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Hoping the Problem Magically Cures Itself? Part IV or VII

*Editor’s Note* – Below is Part IV of seven parts of email exchanges by Jet Ferebee to USFWS Director Ashe exposing corruption and poor red wolf and wildlife management in parts of North Carolina. You can find Part I, Part II, Part III by following the associated links.

Director Ashe,

Since I have been investigating the USFWS red wolf program, your biologists have ceased publicly updating their reports and I do not really blame them. One of the last reports showed that eight out of seventeen or 47% of the known red wolf packs in NC contained coyotes. I have previously proven USFWS has no idea where or what is happening with the vast majority of their red wolves. One can only assume the large unknown and unmanaged wolf population has a much higher occurrence of coyotes and consequential hybridization.

In 1999, the Red Wolf Recovery Implementation Team documented the hybridization rate of wild wolves in our state was 900% more than allowed for the program goal of 80% to 90% genetic integrity to be maintained and the red wolf breed would be unrecognizable within 2 to 3 generations.

I bring this fact up because you are obviously having a difficult time determining exactly what species this pictured canine is and I felt you should understand why.

Mongrel

In January the NCWRC unanimously passed the below resolution demanding that USFWS immediately remove all illegally released wolves and their offspring, which would include the above pictured canine.
NCResolveRemoveWolves

Almost five months after this request from our State agency charged with protecting our native wildlife, USFWS has done absolutely nothing. If I had ever done something as atrocious as what USFWS has done in eastern NC, I would have been doing everything possible to immediately rectify the situation. Not so with USFWS.

As Director of USFWS, do you believe USFWS’s handling of the red wolf scandal in our State bodes well for future USFWS programs where cooperation with State wildlife agencies and private landowners is so critical?

When exactly will you begin removing your illegal wolves and their offspring from NC?

Sincerely,

Jett Ferebee

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Don’t Buy The Nonsense Being Fed Us About Coyotes

It will never cease. I just don’t understand why the need to spread bad information about any kind of wildlife, except that somebody has or had an agenda and that our education factories are just pumping out graduates who seem to mostly project human emotions and human characteristics onto animals.

In a recent Online article at SeaCoast Online, there were comments made about coyotes that are either simply not true or very misleading.

It was stated that Maine has a population of coyotes numbering 12,000. That is likely double that number but nobody knows for sure. All numbers are a guess and fish and game departments, honest ones anyway, admit they put out estimates very much on the low end of things.

Coyotes are an extremely adaptable animal as was pointed out in this article but to state that predator control is “ineffective” in the “long-term” is simply not an accurate statement. Actually thinking coyote control will be effective by one or two attempts at it is wrong. Coyote control must be consistent over long periods of time. Such actions should become necessary when too many coyotes have taken prey populations to non sustainable levels, such as whitetail deer.

The notion that coyotes “balance” ecosystems by doing “rodent patrol” is nothing more than placing some fanciful human element to a wild dog. Coyotes eat whatever is available at the time and is convenient for them. Packs of coyotes are notorious for completely destroying local populations of prey. When this happens it is mostly likely when neighbor’s pets disappear and coyotes begin rummaging your garbage and being more readily seen by humans.

Romance biologists like to tell people that coyotes are necessary for the ecosystem, to keep it in balance. They love to make people think coyotes only kill the sick and lame of their prey species, like they are really stupid and can only tell when an animal is sick, and yet incapable of recognizing a pregnant doe deer to kill and eat the fetus out of the deer while it is still alive. If coyotes are so necessary to the ecosystem, how did Maine and other states ever survive when coyotes were not around for decades and decades? Again, utter propaganda fantasy and misleading information.

This report said that “a healthy adult deer is too much of a fight for the coyote.” This is misleading at best. Coyotes are simply opportunistic hunters. That means they will eat what is easiest and what is before them. Is it that we think or have been wrongly taught that the only time a coyote or pack will take on a deer for lunch is when it is “sick or weakened” and starve the rest of the time?

There are countless accounts, including photographic and video evidence of two or more coyotes taking down and killing healthy adult male deer. This is mostly done when there is snow on the ground that will hinder the ability of a deer to escape. It doesn’t mean the coyotes pick out only the deer with a limp. I have seen photographic evidence of two coyotes taking down a mature adult male deer when there was only about two inches of snow on the ground.

It is also wrongly described as “curiosity” being a “weakness” of the coyote. This article references that when it said, “As canines, like your average black Labrador, they want to know what’s going on.” To some degree that may be true but unlike your average black Labrador, the coyote is most always looking for the next meal.

The use of the terms “curious” and “pretty leery” are misplaced because they are misunderstood. It is important to know the difference. Coyotes look on humans in much the same way they might look at a deer. The coyote is not stupid. Their intelligence is what makes them so highly adaptable. When coyotes are visible to humans it has meaning. Coyotes study prey and it may come as a shock to most people because of the nonsense they have been taught, but humans to a coyote are prey, especially small children.

Missing from this article are the many accounts of coyotes entering backyards and attacking children at play. The child is a prey species to the coyote and in much the same way as it can recognize a pregnant doe deer, it sizes up humans for the same reasons.

This “curiosity” is a process that all wild canines go through. They study their prey in order to learn how they can attack it if hunger drives them to it. Size does matter. Why would a coyote select a large adult human when small ones are available? But with hunger, we must toss out the rationalization.

During this study process, coyotes will stand at a distance and watch the actions and reactions of the human. After a while the coyote will come closer. Often we hear of coyotes being described around humans as “being almost playful,” sometimes “nipping” at a persons sleeve or pant leg. This may actually be what is called “prey testing.” The coyote makes motions to see how this prey species is going to react. After all, they are trying to figure out how to take it down and if they can.

If driven by hunger long enough – about the only thing that will drive a coyote into your backyard and attack – a coyote will eventually attack a human.

That doesn’t mean we necessarily must fear the animal but why not educate people about this creature with truth and facts instead of some romantic nonsense of how humans and wild animals can live together in perfect harmony?

There is one other issue I would like to address briefly. In this article, there was mention of seeing coyotes of odd or unusual colors, i.e. “snow-white coloring” and “including a black one.” This is more than likely the result of cross-breeding. Yesterday I was reading an article about coyotes in which a so-called expert said that cross breeding by coyotes was an extremely rare thing. It’s not so rare as most might think and the problem is getting worse.

We do know that in Maine most “coyotes” are actually a hybrid mix of an eastern coyotes, wolf and domestic dog. There is scientific evidence to support this. It should be also noted that with the increased presence of coyotes in human-settled landscapes, the odds of hybridization or cross-breeding goe up.

If these romance biologists and promoters of propaganda fantasies are really so much in love with their coyote friends, why aren’t they concerned with the preservation of the species? Cross-breeding will destroy the coyote species. Do we really want a forest and fields full of packs of unpredictable mongrel wild dogs?

This hybridization has other repercussions few know about or care about and they should. An actual coyote has characteristics that are held and passed down from one generation of coyote to the next. With hybridization, those characteristics change and are lost. Over time what some of us learned and understood about the behavior of the coyotes changed because of the increase in the number of coyotes forced onto human-settled landscapes. This is an important reason to encourage coyote control of numbers. Keep coyotes in the wild where they belong not in our backyards.

The truth is, I’m not sure that we can accurately predict what these so-called coyotes are going to do anymore.

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