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, according to an article on PressHerald.com.
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.
Kays said the Eastern coyote has about 8 percent wolf DNA – and that percentage will increase over time. He cautions that the evolutionary process is not rapid, and that it could take another century for the Eastern coyote to look much different than it does today. But already, the coyote is considered a threat to the most vulnerable deer – and hunters offer anecdotal evidence that coyotes can take down even large, healthy deer.