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View the full list Talk of “coywolves” – a blend of coyote and wolf – is everywhere.

Some prehistoric hybridization event transferred the dog gene into wild wolves and coyotes.

Nowadays, eastern coyotes have no problem finding a coyote mate.

Their populations continue to grow throughout their new forested range, and they seem more likely to kill a dog than breed with it.

Instead, we are finding a large intermixing population of coyotes across the continent, with a smattering of noncoyote DNA mixed in to varying degrees along the eastern edge. A dark eastern coyote is caught on camera trap as it hunts with his better-camouflaged pack mate in North Carolina.

This German shepherd-like coloration probably comes from a dog gene that moved into the coyote gene pool in a hybridization event ~50 years ago.

Roland Kays does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

North Carolina State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

In Central America, they have expanded out of Mexico’s deserts, working their way south past the Panama Canal in the last decade, apparently bound for South America.

No genetic studies have looked at Central American coyotes, but photographs of doglike animals suggest that coyotes might be mixing it up across species lines along the leading edge of this southward expansion as well.

However, biologically speaking, they are similar enough that interbreeding is possible.

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