Evolution

About 1.5-1.8 million years ago wolves started to evolve in North America, one species was the Canis Edwardii (the first “true” wolf in North America). It is also believed that during this time the Bering Strait was frozen over, as well as possibly the Arctic sea, which allowed Canis Edwardii to migrate into Asia (as well as many other non-canine species migrations between the continents). (For more information on the canidae family evolution, please visit South Florida Wolfdogs)

It is believed that Canis Lycaon evolved from Canis Edwardii and started to appear in North America around 300,000-750,000 years ago. During this time they were the apex predator in the eastern 1/3 of Canada as well as the northeastern USA. Later in this period their territory reached south enough that they interbred with an old species of coyote and out of that hybridization the red wolf (Canis Lupus Rufus) which exist today in North Carolina.

Around 10,000-15,000 years ago the modern grey wolf (Canis Lupis) crossed the Bering Strait with the first native Americans and began in their dominance over northwestern North America and over thousands of years migrated to the south and east. Their more southern migration may have been a result of the eastern wolf’s territory in eastern Canada. During this time, the coyote (Canis Latrans) was migrating north from the southwestern USA, both species started an eastern push and it is believed that the two, possibly even with the eastern wolf, crossed into the coyote subspecies that exists from south of the Great Lakes to the northeast USA.

Due to human colonization and expansion most canine species have been pushed back due to their inability to quickly adapt (with the exception of the coyote) and the eastern wolf’s territory is a small fraction of what it used to be, mainly the Algonquin Provincial Park area, possibly a small area of Quebec, Manitoba, and Wisconsin.

Today the eastern wolf is highly protected. Coyote hunting and any kind of trapping are not allowed in their territory since the eastern wolf is commonly mistaken for a coyote. Illegal killing and poaching are still the leading cause of their death today, it is estimated that about 2/3 of the eastern wolves that are killed are deliberately and illegally killed by humans.

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