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The future of the coyotes that roam forests, cities and suburbs from Newfoundland to Virginia could hinge on the animals becoming the "wolves" of the East Coast.Coyotes have lived in the East since the 1930s, and recent genetic tests have shown they are actually a mixture of coyote, wolf and dog. That's why Eastern coyotes tend to be bigger than their Western cousins.It could ultimately mean the coyotes start to play the role of top predator on the East Coast – one played by wolves long ago and no longer occupied by a single, dominant species.The Eastern coyote is one of 19 subspecies of coyote, which are adaptable predators that live everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to Florida swamps. The Eastern subspecies, which ranges as far west as Ohio, is thought to have migrated to the Northeast some 80 years ago, taking over the range occupied by wolves and interbreeding with the larger animals.They no longer overlap with wolves, which are long gone from the East save for the very rare red wolf, but they remain eight to 25 percent wolf genetically, said Roland Kays, a leading coyote biologist with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
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