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Supposed Wolf Species May Actually be Hybrids

posted Nov 3, 2016, 10:09 AM by chloe owens

7/27/16, by Nala Rogers, The Wildlife Society

Supposed wolf species may actually be hybrids

American canids are all mixed up, genetically speaking. That’s the conclusion of a new study examining wolf and coyote DNA, and the findings could change which animals receive Endangered Species Act protection. Red wolves (Canis rufus) have long been protected as a separate species, and more recently, researchers have proposed that “eastern wolves” in Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park also represent a unique species. The new study released today is the first to examine the complete genomes of red and eastern wolves, and it suggests that both are actually recent hybrids of gray wolves (Canis lupus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) suggests that red wolves emerged in the 1800s or somewhat earlier, when humans were exterminating gray wolves from the Southeast and converting forests to farmland…The revelations about red wolves could mean the end of a decades-long conservation effort.