Date of this Version
In the last 20 years (especially during the last decade), reports of coyote-like wild canids have increased steadily in the southeastern United States. These canids have apparently become well established in many parts of the Southeast. Taxonomically, the coyote-like animal could represent coyote (Canis latrans), red wolf (C. rufus), gray wolf (C. lupus), domestic dog (C. familaris), or hybrids of these taxa. There has been wide speculation (especially among the general public) in some areas as to the taxonomic status of wild canids. General references to wild "coy-dogs" (coyote x domestic dog cross) have become increasingly numerous in the popular and semipopular press. There has been suspicion of potential massive introgression of domestic dog genes into wild canid population resulting in a highly modified canid population. Perhaps part of this speculation has resulted from the hybridization of coyotes and red wolves in portions of the Southeast. However, at this time, it is relatively clear that there is little basis for fear of massive coyote and dog hybridization or the stabilization of hybrid populations in the Southeast.