August 15, 2014

"Thus did humans inadvertently create an ecological niche for a predator in one of the most densely populated regions of the country."

"In an exceedingly brief period, coyote, wolf and dog genes have been remixed into something new: a predator adapted to a landscape teeming with both prey and another apex predator, us. And this mongrel continues to evolve."

That NYT Magazine article seems like something the British sociologist Ben Pitcher should express concern about.

24 comments:

Moose said...

This is going to be interesting - clearly the Coyote is better at all around survival than the wolf is in semi urban settings, and it's more likely to approach and attach humans. A conundrum for the tree-huggers.

madAsHell said...

They included a montage of the bunny from Donnie Darko, and a jaguar from the Museo Nacional de AntropologĂ­a. Wazzup wit dat!!

Anglelyne said...

Thanks for the link; very interesting. I for one welcome our new Coywolf masters.

I've heard that mountain lions are also showing up again in areas from which they'd disappeared. Who will win this apex predator cage match - Cougar, Super Coyote, or Homo Suburbanus?

I'll root for whichever one initiates a reign of terror against the various rodents, lagomorphs, and cervids tearing up my trees and gardens.

St. George said...

The mongrel decade.

Ebola has morphed. Islamic fundamentalism has morphed. Global financial affairs have morphed. Policing has morphed

Our global civilization has become so complex it steps all over itself trying to solve problem, say, FEMA at the Jersey Shore, or, better put, it lacks the ability to respond so ensnarled is it in tape.

Perhaps the most charitable thing you can say about Obama is that befuddled by complexities and unexpected chaos outside his ken, he chooses to dance the night away. It's a survival strategy. The minute he wades into the maelstroms, he really does put himself at risk.

“We’re kind of privileged in the last 100 years to watch the birth of this entity,” the article says. “It’s sort of cool that evolution is really messy.”

Looks like we are going to have the privilege of learning a lot about messes all over.

The Godfather said...

We have something of a deer problem in this part of NC. They destroy or damage a lot of gardens and landscapes. But it's hard to develop a consensus to do anything effective about them (i. e., kill them) because they're so cute. Wolves and coyotes are a different matter entirely. I think you could develop a consensus to get rid of them pretty quickly.

Fernandinande said...

"Species" is just a social construct:


Canine individuals may be likely to represent their hunting orientation in non-binary ways such as "dog" and "wolf" given these labels don't reference their own species, which may be in transition, fluid, or not fully captured by dog, coyote or wolf identity labels.

rhhardin said...

A depredator.

Christopher said...

Can we just agree to run house artists or their editors out on a rail? How can you print an article like that without showing us what the "coywolf" looks like? Considering we now have an 80% forest-covered New England and a species that has shown the ability to fatally attack humans in packs, this might be useful.

Besides that, we have a series of artistic images that are related to the point of the story in only the most superficial way, since I'm pretty sure that spiders cannot mate with butterflies, nor leopards with rabbits.

I mean srsly people.

rhhardin said...

Ecological niche occupied.

Quaestor said...

When you have two species in the same genus (wolf and dog are distinct only at the subspecies level) having the same diploid number, and sharing the same habitat, you're going to see hybridization. Lupus/latrans hybrids running wild in New England isn't an accidental human creation, it's evolution. Humans can try to keep an artificial boundary between these canids, but it's folly to think the boundary can be kept impenetrable.

In the famous fictional words of chaotician* Ian Malcolm, life finds a way.

*Spellcheck says it's a fake. Wiktionary says it's a word.

Michael K said...

Coyotes and mountain lions are all over southern California. I see them walking the dog, more coyotes than lions but we had two lion attacks the same day a few years ago here. The woman's husband is an oral surgeon at the hospital and he fainted when he saw her in the preop room. I have seen her since her recovery.

Michael K said...

I finally read the article and all is explained. " The rise of fossil fuels reduced the demand for firewood." plus of course global warming. It's all our fault these monster creatures are invading New York City where only muggers roamed before.

Bill Crawford said...

Michael K,

You see the coyote and mountain lion walking the dog?

Boy, they have evolved!

Stoutcat said...

Coywolves have been on Cape Cod for a couple of decades now... They are stronger, beefier predators than the regular coyotes. And if you know what a regular coyote looks like, there's no mistaking it for a coywolf.

First response on seeing a coywolf: "What the hell is that? That's not a coyote!"

They're taller and stockier than regular coyotes, but with the same smarts and also the same brass; they'll trot right down the middle of the road, and give you that look that says, "Yeah, so?"

We have a wildlife area next to our property, and the conservation folks went in one day and cleaned out some invasive non-native plants. They found a coywolf hideout, and a few dozen empty cat collars.

jimbino said...

I just finished eliminating a ground-squirrel infestation by trapping 19 of the critters one by one. They were apparently all illiterate, since the traps said "RAT TRAP" in big letters.

I used peanut butter and sunflower seeds, but a single coyote would have been faster.

Ambrose said...

I have a picture in my mind of Wylie Coyote with an Acme Brand Genetic Modification Kit. "Just add water. Caution: Contains wolf and dog DNA." Hijinks ensue.

Ann Althouse said...

"We have a wildlife area next to our property, and the conservation folks went in one day and cleaned out some invasive non-native plants. They found a coywolf hideout, and a few dozen empty cat collars."

Cats are nonnative, so that's a win for native songbirds.

Right?

Keep your kitties inside, people.

hombre said...

I didn't see a photograph. Are these creatures like Bigfoot NYT style?

TCR James said...

We had these when I was growing up in the 70s and 80's in Upstate NY, in a fairly rural area, some farms lots of woods. (Real Upstate New York; not Clinton Mansion-in-Westchester 'Upstate.')

They called these dogs Coy Dogs. They were a mix of feral dog, coyote, and the wolves that the Department of Environmental Conservation insisted could not possibly be living in the area. Local good ol' boys talked about them and a relative who was a wildlife researcher confirmed their basic makeup to us. They lived and hunted in packs, sometimes at night you could hear them sing though they didn't like to show themselves around humans. They'd kill domesticated dogs, deer, and it wasn't unusual for outdoor cats to disappear - maybe that was coy-dogs, or it could have been other predators like plain old coyotes. We didn't go far from the house without having a pistol handy, mainly to deal with the occasional rabid woodchuck or racoon but also because there was concern about these packs of feral dogs hunting around...

Rusty said...

I have a picture in my mind of Wylie Coyote with an Acme Brand Genetic Modification Kit. "Just add water. Caution: Contains wolf and dog DNA." Hijinks ensue.

8/15/14, 1:46 PM
Ann Althouse said...
"We have a wildlife area next to our property, and the conservation folks went in one day and cleaned out some invasive non-native plants. They found a coywolf hideout, and a few dozen empty cat collars."

Cats are nonnative, so that's a win for native songbirds.


The feral cats that the dogooders insisted on feeding were all gone by the end of summer. There were dozens of cats. Now there aren't any. The down side is now there are coyotes roaming the neighborhoods.

T Rellis said...

The article has at least one thing incorrect (I hear you saying, "nyt? No way.")

They are definitely all the way to south east NC, which means they are all the way to SC, not Virginia as the article says.

And yes the first time you see one you will, wtf was that?

Alex said...

I get along with wolves and coyotes just fine. We all get together for a beer after work.

Rocketeer said...

Whatever happens, we have got: The Maxim gun; coywolves have not.

retired said...

Started out interesting but devolved into incoherency as the writer seems to know little about genetics. Or the climate. Or is that the scientists that don't (want to) understand?
The çoyotes think they own our rural neighborhood but they don't seem to cause much trouble, unlike the deer and the bears.