The latest news appearing in the papers is addressing the Coywolf. It is very interesting research by the MiDNR.
My interest is limited to field identification. The MiDNR is applying mitochondrial and other DNA procedures. Morphology and ecology with the DNA research is a complicated task. My research is; they are big, furry and they bite. I do know one thing after they all but disappeared in the 1960's, when they returned in the 1990's the coyote was bigger and hunted in packs. Their howls went from tenor to baritone. I watched during the 1990's as they congregated on the ice just south of the Waugashonce archipelago. Groups of six or more would interact 3 to 4 miles out on the ice. Single coyotes would cowl up to a group and the interaction was scary, with snarling and bared teeth the group would surround the individual. This social behavior I had never seen before. By 2005 their packing up at dusk became louder more deep throated howls and sounded like 6 to 8 coyotes in number. Many times when hunting I've heard this behavior to the point it that it doesn't amuse me anymore, and it does make me very uncomfortable. It doesn't take a backwoods man to tell the difference between a small dog yap verses the low pitch howell of a large dog. That's when my imagination begins to run wild.
The coyote of 50 years ago was usually about 25 pounds. He was a longer. He was very timid. Native Americans called him the trickster due to the fact that he was so elusive. One would be lucky to get a quick glimpse of a coyote in the wild. His ability to disappear was amazing. The questions that have arisen over the new behavior the Coywolf exhibits may never be answered. The fact that he is wedged in between the 30 pound coyote and the 80 pound Eastern Gray or Timberwolf and resembles both makes it almost impossible to identify.
So what's the verdict for outdoor sportsmen, canoeists, and backpackers. When in the woods that have such Apex Predators such as bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes and now Coywolves, behavior of said animals is the key. These mammals rely on stealth. They can out see, smell, and hear us. If they allow you to see them for any extended time that's not a good thing. You must use your head. Am I near it's food cache? Am I close to it's den or am I on the menu? Back tracking has always been my choice. Slowly, while facing the threat, move backwards a great distance. Exposing your back to the threat is a bad idea. It is exactly the position they are trying to attain.
We now are finally getting true spring weather. Most of us want a pleasant adventure in the wild. The warm weather brings nature back to life and spending time on a river is at the top of my list. Fly fishing for spawning rainbows is only days away for me. It's been a long cold winter and I welcome spring more each year. Get the equipment ready. Enjoying a safe Northern Michigan is pure and simple.
For further reading on the Coywolf : reelwatersmi / outdoor lore 6/5/2013.
Sweet Is The Lore That Nature Brings