Wolf, Coyote, or a Combination?
Three of us thought we saw a wolf in our backyard, but according to Endangered New Jersey, “There are no wolves in the wild in NJ.” Here’s what the site says:
Wolves can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Expanding development, farming, and ranching activity has drastically reduced the wolf’s range and population. Suitable habitat now restricts wolves to remote areas of their traditional range.
But conservation and education efforts will hopefully protect and preserve wolves throughout the world. There are no wolves in the wild in NJ, but you can visit them in captivity.
Reintroduction programs are being implemented and captive wolves in zoos, and wolf research centers are being maintained to insure that the genetic purity of wolf species is preserved. Turtle Back Zoo’s wolves come from Wolf Park Research Center in Battle Ground, Indiana.
In the urban wilderness of Essex County, you can visit wolves at the Turtleback Zoo which has a Wolf Woods habitat. You can see timber wolves close up but safely through glass panels that let you feel like a member of the pack. Several viewing stations let you see the wolves from different angles. You will wolves see crossing a stream, resting on logs and rocky outcroppings and nose-close right at the window.
If you want to hear the howling of wolves in NJ, you can also head to the mountains of the Delaware Water Gap in Warren County, NJ. At the Lakota Wolf Preserve, (Pics above are wolves I photographed at the Lakota Wolf Preserve.) there are great photo opportunities with packs of Tundra, Timber, and Arctic wolves in a natural surrounding. There are also bobcats and foxes at the reserve. The preserve is at at 89 Mt. Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ.
If it wasn’t a wolf, what was it?!
Could it be a Coywolf?! What is a Coywolf?
Shout out to my critique partner, Kathy, for introducing me to New Jersey’s “apex predator!”
In an article by by Laura Herzog | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com,
Coywolves are said to be Eastern coyotes, “the latest cool-sounding hybrid animal that researchers say now can be found by the millions throughout the Northeast.”
The coywolf is actually a cross between a coyote and a wolf, and it’s pretty common in the Northeast U.S., including N.J., according to several reports.
What used to be considered an eastern coyote is more accurately called a coywolf, according to Smithsonian Magazine, since eastern wolves interbred with western coyotes when deforestation and hunting threatened their population.
Researchers have learned that the coywolf is about twice the size of a coyote, with larger jaws and bigger muscles that allow it to kill deer, the UK Independent reports. The animals were dubbed the new “superpredators” by Field and Stream.
The extensive coywolf studies of Pepperdine University biology professor Javier MonzA3n concluded that coyote DNA dominates, but the animal is also 10 percent dog and 25 percent wolf, the Economist reported.
A 2014 PBS special on the coywolf observed that the coywolf may be taking over the region but its appearance only began within the last 90 years.
Coyotes now exist in at least 400 towns across the state, according to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, NJ Advance Media has reported.
One eastern Coyote/coywolf research site says that the animal is found from New Jersey to Maine, weighs 30 to 45 pounds on average, and ranges in color from “blonde to darker black and brown, but is usually tawny brown.” While the animal may be stronger than the coyote, coywolf attacks are extremely rare, and there’s no reason for “wolf hysteria,” the Coywolf Association says.