Maine’s coyotes are destined to become a bigger, bolder, more aggressive wolf-like animal, and in time will pose an even greater threat to the state’s white-tailed deer population.
The Eastern coyote has long been recognized by state biologists as a coyote-wolf hybrid, first documented in Maine in the early 1900s. But Roland Kays, a leading researcher of coyote DNA at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, said the Eastern coyote found in Maine is becoming more “wolfy” as natural selection favors the dominant wolf genes that make it a larger, more effective predator than its Western counterpart.
“They will continue to get bigger,” Kays said. “They have more wolf genes than the Western coyote. From an evolution point of view, it’s helping the animal survive better. Those (wolf) genes that make it larger are being passed on. I see no reason that will change.”
The implications could be significant in Maine, where deer hunting is a popular recreational activity and contributes to the state’s economy.