[Taxacom] Canis lycaon (Eastern wolf)

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 16 21:54:23 CDT 2007

Dear All,
      I am interested in learning more about the taxonomic status of _Canis 
lycaon_ (Eastern wolf or Eastern Canadian wolf).  It has been long been 
regarded as a subspecies of the grey wolf.

     However, more recent publications seem to regard it as a separate 
species unto itself (Eastern Canadian wolf), or as a subspecies of Canis 
rufus (with the Red Wolf and Eastern Canadian Wolf lumped together as one 
species, the  "Eastern Wolf" of North America).  If the latter is the case, 
and this eastern species is most closely related to coyotes, perhaps this 
the Eastern Wolf should better be called the Greater Coyote.  They are not 
only smaller than grey wolves (like coyotes), but apparently also tend to 
hybridize more readily with coyotes.

     From a standpoint of preservation and/or reintroduction of these 
eastern canids, perhaps calling them coyotes (rather than wolves) would also 
make the public less hostile towards them.  Their smaller size is not well 
represented by calling them wolves, which automatically engenders fear in 
the minds of those who equate them with the larger grey wolves.  Of course, 
the species taxonomy must first be settled, and then the best common name 
for conservation purposes would then follow.  The reintroduction of grey 
wolves in areas outside of "Yellowstone" will always meet stiff resistance, 
but this should not influence the reintroduction or preservation of the 
smaller "Greater Coyotes" in eastern North America just because they were 
misnamed "wolves".
     -----Ken Kinman

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