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Old 11-22-2016, 02:07 PM   #21
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Originally Posted by Bounder45 View Post
Until recently, wasn't the eastern wolf considered a subspecies of the gray wolf?

I don't know why the US Fish and Wildlife Service ultimately decided to reclassify it as a separate species; their natural range overlaps with that of the gray wolf and they frequently breed together. Given time, the two species will likely continue to co-mingle and exchange their genes with one another.

Personally I don't see the need to treat them as separate species; the few differences there are in terms of size and appearance are very normal for species with regional variations (like cougar, black bear, brown bear, ect.).

The common ancestor of Wolves in Eurasia came to North America tens of thousands of years ago. Those evolved into the Coyote and Eastern Wolf. Much later what we call the Gray Wolf that evolved in Eurasia came to North America.

I believe the confusion to the relationship of the two wolves stems from the common ancestor in Eurasia.

If the pack structure and hierarchy are somewhat stable there is very little hybridization. Hunting undermines the pack structure. A bigger problem in the east where packs are much smaller. If one or both alphas are taken out there may not be another member in place to assume that role.
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