Archive for November, 2015

New DNA Study Supports the Eastern Wolf as a Distinct Species


In a new article by authors Rutledge et al 2015 eastern wolves genetic simulations, evidence is presented to support the existence of three distinct large canids in eastern North America, the gray wolf, the eastern wolf and the eastern coyote.  Whereas some researchers conclude that the eastern wolf (canis lycaon) is a hybrid of the gray wolf and the western coyote, this article provides evidence that the eastern wolf is a distinct species.  Furthermore, the article provides evidence that the great lakes wolf is a hybrid of the gray wolf and the eastern wolf and that the eastern coyote is a hybrid of the eastern wolf and the western coyote.  It cites a prior study in which Great Lakes wolves were considered to be eastern wolves, thereby producing incorrect conclusions regarding the origins and identities of eastern North American canids.  The authors of this study considered only wolves from Algonquin Park to be eastern wolves for purposes of DNA comparison.

The article states, “The recognition of the eastern wolf as a separate species does not exclude the possibility that a grey wolf x eastern wolf hybrid animal (similar to the Great Lakes wolves)…historically inhabited the northeastern United States alongside eastern wolves, and there is some evidence to support the historical presence of both Canis types. The recognition of C. lycaon should not, therefore, influence grey wolf delisting decisions in the USA.”

We at MWC again call for further DNA analyses of wolves killed south of the St. Lawrence River to determine their origins, their relation (if any) one another, and the possible existence of a breeding wolf population in the northeast U.S. and maritime Canada.