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It's not just that hunting is decreasing the red wolf population but "widow" wolves seem to prefer coyotes as their new partner

How hunting is leading to the rise of the coywolves

Saturday, April 4, 2015, 8:38 PM - While many species are dwindling around the world, there's one type of animal that seems to be booming: the hybrid species commonly known as "coywolves"

The story of the coywolves has a sad beginning as one of the parent species—the red wolf—not too long ago was virtually extinct in the wild. Through careful protection programs, a small population was able to be reintroduced into North Carolina wilderness.

Now as the red wolf population fights to grow, hunting is having twice the normal effect on the wolves. Not only are wolves dying, the surviving wolf "widows" are mating with nearby coyotes resulting in plenty of coywolves being born in the area.

According to new research from the University of Idaho, nearly 1/5 of the litters born in the 12 years that were observed had one red wolf parent and one coyote parent.

Coywolves are found in the northeastern U.S. as well as eastern Canada. The average coywolf weighs about 36 pounds and can reach a height of about two feet. They look like coyotes but have some wolf characteristics: white face, wolf-coloured fur and sometimes even a German shepherd-like appearance.

Like coyotes, the hybrid species feed on small mammals—including dogs and cats at times—but have been known to go after bigger mammals like white-tailed deers.

MUST-SEE: Take a look at this scary chase by a coyote

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