Mexican Gray Wolves
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of gray wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 131 individuals - an increase from the 114 counted at the end of 2017.
The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana. After being declared an endangered species in 1973, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program.
The current estimate puts the only wild population of red wolves at their lowest level since the late 1990s. Only 11 red wolves are known to remain in the wild.
According to recent genomic research, eastern wolves, previously considered a subspecies of gray wolf, Canis lupus lycaon, actually represent a separate species (Canis lycaon). Algonquin wolves, also referred to as Eastern wolves, are classified as a “threatened” species. The wolves are found only in a handful of places, including Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada. The Eastern wolf has disappeared from almost all of southern Ontario, largely as a result of loss of habitat through forest clearance and farmland development. Hybridization could also be a potential long-term threat to the genetic integrity of Eastern Wolf populations.
Less than 500 Eastern wolves remain in the wild; most Eastern wolves live in central Ontario and western Quebec, and with the highest population densities found in Algonquin Provincial Park.
There is a wild hybrid canid living in the eastern United States, and it is the result of evolution occurring right under our noses!
Over the years these dynamic canids have acquired a number of nicknames. Both "Coywolf" and “Coydog” have been growing in popularity; however, the majority of the scientific community prefer the less flashy moniker: “Eastern Coyote.” It's no surprise that "wolf" and "dog" have been woven into the identity of wild canids in the region, as current science indicates a number of species are represented within the genome of the eastern coyote. Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Javier Monzón, previously at Stony Brook University in New York, now at Pepperdine University in California, analyzed the DNA of 437 eastern coyotes and found the genes contain all three canids -- dog, wolf and coyote. According to Monzón's research, about 64% of the eastern coyote's genome is coyote (Canis latrans), 13% gray wolf (Canis lupus), 13% Eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), and 10% dog (Canis familiaris).