Little Red Riding Hood should be watching her back for coyotes, not wolves. Fascinating story here from Nature magazine via Scientific American about the ascent of coyotes, who’ve filled a vacuum created by the demise of wolves, cougars and bobcats.
Here’s an excerpt from Sharon Levy’s article:
“Researchers have long known the coyote as a master of adaptation, but studies over the past few years are now revealing how these unimposing relatives of wolves and dogs have managed to succeed where many other creatures have suffered. Coyotes have flourished in part by exploiting the changes that people have made to the environment, and their opportunism goes back thousands of years. In the past two centuries, coyotes have taken over part of the wolf‘s former ecological niche by preying on deer and even on an endangered group of caribou. Genetic studies reveal that the coyotes of northeastern America — which are bigger than their cousins elsewhere — carry wolf genes that their ancestors picked up through interbreeding. This lupine inheritance has given northeastern coyotes the ability to bring down adult deer — a feat seldom attempted by the smaller coyotes of the west.”
Click here to read the entire article.