MORRILL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Maine used to be inhabited by wolves which stalked deer and other animals under the canopy of trees.
As Europeans moved in and cleared farmland, the wolves were extirpated. They were a threat to livestock and they did not thrive in the open spaces that were created by farms.
The Western coyote moved in. This 30-pound canid thrived in the newly opened space.
Historically, the coyote was the wolf's prey. However, by 1919, the wolf viewed the smaller canid differently and the two began to mate. This happened in Canada and around the Great Lakes.
The result was hybridization. The crossing of these animals produced the coyote that we see in Maine today. Originally thought to be the Western coyote, this new hybrid is perfectly adapted to Maine.
"It's a bigger animal," said Dr. Paula T. Work of the Maine State Museum. "It has a bushy tail, it's a taller animal and it's about twice the weight of the Western coyote."
Like its wolf predecessors, it thrives in the forested North. Like its coyote predecessors, it thrives around Maine's more populated areas where the land is more open.