Hybrid coywolves may be making an appearance in the windy city very soon.
Three years. That’s how long experts think it will take before hybrid coywolves roam Chicago streets.
Coywolves are a hybrid between coyotes and eastern wolves, taking on traits from both parents. They display the cunning resilience and adaptability of coyotes, and the pack hunting cooperation, larger bodies, and social hierarchy of wolves. This powerful combination quickly escalates hybrid coywolves to be alpha predators where they occur.
Already, hybrid coywolves have a strong presence in the northeast U.S. and Canada, including some large urban areas like New York, Boston, and Toronto. However, they have been steadily expanding westward and already have a presence in Ohio and Indiana.
Hybrid coywolves have a tendency to thrive in urban and suburban areas because food sources (rats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, geese, and garbage) are abundant. Since coywolves are larger than their coyote cousins and hunt in packs, they are also able to hunt deer effectively. The large deer population in the northeast through the midwest U.S. is a large factor that allows the hybrid coywolves to expand their range westward.
Hybrid coywolves were first documented in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park in 1919. As eastern wolf populations plummeted throughout the United States and Canada, the park was a refuge for wolves. Coyotes were able to fill this gap by expanding northward and becoming more dominant. Due to the low wolf population, wolves began interbreeding with increasingly common coyotes.
It’s expected that hybrid coywolves could already be present in Illinois, and that they could expand their population range to Chicago in the next couple years. Natural resource managers expect that once a breeding coywolf population is established, they will become more dominant in Illinois. However, coywolves tend to be wary of humans and are generally not expected to pose threats to residents of the Chicago area.
Follow me on Twitter @rjlisson