Coyote wolf hybrids, or coywolves, flourish in parts of US

The grey wolf pictured here once inhabited vast swathes of North America, Europe and Asia. A coyote wolf hybrid has now evolved in some of the places once dominated by the wolf.

Coyote wolf hybrids, or coywolves, have evolved over a relatively short period of time and are now found in areas in eastern North America stretching from southern Canada into parts of the Midwest and south into Virginia, but they're really flourishing in parts of Maine.

A coywolf is a hybrid species that has DNA from both coyotes and wolves. They evolved as wolves and wolf habitat were destroyed and coyotes, a traditional prey of wolves, moved into the areas that were previously home to wolves.

Wolves prefer forested areas while coyotes are at home on farmland, so as big areas of forest were cleared for farming, coyotes took over in what was once predominantly wolf habitat.

The two animals began mating in the early 20th century in Canada and around the Great Lakes, resulting in the hybrid species known as a coywolf.

The coywolf is a good fit in Maine, where wolves once thrived, and it has replaced the coyote and has adapted well, experts said.

"It's a bigger animal," Dr. Paula T. Work of the Maine State Museum told WCSH TV.

“It has a bushy tail. It’s a taller animal and about twice the weight of the western coyote.”

Some wildlife groups believe Maine would be an excellent place to re-introduce the wolf.