Wolves and coyotes mating?
Q: Do wolves and coyotes interbreed? Are there wolf-coyote hybrids?
Right: [Monty Sloan, www.wolfphotography.com © used with permission] A hybrid gray-wolf/coyote.
A: Yes, coyotes and wolves interbreed. Each species ranges far: a wolf pack typically from 40 to 400 square
miles. Wolves and coyotes run across each other hunting and can interbreed. Most of the hybrids live eastern
Normally, wolves chase coyotes away from their territory or attack and kill them.
The number of wolves, however, has dwindled since settlers started moving west in the 1700s. When the picking's poor, a male wolf will mate with a female
coyote. Their offspring live and reproduce. Apparently, male coyotes don't mate with female wolves. At least, their offspring don't survive.
"[This] may indicate that the smaller male coyotes cannot inspire the larger female gray wolves to mate with them," speculates Robert K. Wayne, biology
professor, University of California at Los Angeles.
The resulting gray-wolf and coyote cross breeds look and act like an animal somewhere in between--smaller than the wolf, more reddish in color, and wolf-like
howls mixed with coyote yips--and can hybridize with both species. Older hybrid zones in southern United States were perhaps up to several thousand miles in
width. These hybrids are now essentially coyotes as the wolf has become extinct in our southern states.
Molecular evolution of the dog family by Robert Wayne