Cape Cod is "Coyote country"
As the animal control officer in Belmont for the past 15 years, Maguranis says he began to receive a lot of coyote complaint calls soon after he took the job in 2001. At first, he didn’t know how to address the issue—but the calls kept coming. In 2002, Maguranis contacted Dr. Jonathan Way of Barnstable, the founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research, and author of Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts (2007). “Dr. Way responded to my concerns, took me under his wing, invited me to participate in some of his research, and taught me a lot about coyotes,” Maguranis says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help and guidance.”
The Eastern coyote species found on Cape Cod is often referred to as the “coywolf.” For more than a decade Way has been researching this hybrid animal, conducting field studies across the Cape, gathering data, and advocating for legal protections for this unique predator.
In Massachusetts, coyotes can be hunted six months per year, from mid-October to early March. Way views this as a tragedy. “The unfortunate reality remains,” Way states, “that it is easier and far less expensive to acquire a hunting license ($30) than it is to obtain the permits and [funding] necessary to study and research these animals.”
Way estimates there are 200 to 250 total coyotes on Cape Cod. According to an article on Way’s website, easterncoyoteresearch.com, “recent genetic research on Eastern coyotes indicates that they are actually a hybrid between Western coyotes (Canis latrans) and Eastern/red wolves (Canis lyacon) … They are larger and genetically distinct from both Western coyotes and Eastern/red wolves.”
Brewster resident Peter Trull, a biologist, naturalist and a teacher at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School, has been studying and photographing local wildlife for more than 25 years. In his book Coyotes in the Neighborhood: An Informative Guide to the Habits and Life History of the Eastern Coyote (2002), Trull suggests that this larger, wolf-like, Eastern-coyote hybrid has always inhabited the region. Others have theorized that the Eastern coyote has, in recent decades, filled a “predatory gap” left as a result of the extirpation of the region’s grey wolf, a practice that began in the mid 1600s with the early settlers.
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