The Red Wolf: Does it Deserve Protection?

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La Striata
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The Red Wolf: Does it Deserve Protection?

Post by La Striata » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:34 am

Just to give some context, I'll provide you with the link and some relevant quotes from last years genomic study, which proved beyond all doubt that the red wolf is really a coyote with wolf ancestry:
In both structure and SABER analyses, red wolves appear to have an admixed ancestry with ~75-80% of their genome attributed to coyotes and the remainder to gray wolves... We estimate admixture was initiated 144 generations (287-430 years) ago, placing it approximately in a periodwhen the Southeast U.S. was being converted to agriculture and predators were intensely hunted for fur or as pests... The implications of our results are that a component of the phenotypic distinction of red wolves may be attributed to historic hybridization of distinct populations of gray wolves and coyotes. It has been suggested that hybrids are not clearly protected under the ESA, especially hybrids between nonlisted entities. Since a critical aim of the red wolf recovery project is to maintain the introduced population free from hybridization, the rationale of the program may need reconsidering as the extant red wolves clearly derive from a process of admixture.

http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/Faculty/Novembr ... search.pdf
So what's your stance? I don't think the red wolf should be exterminated, but I do believe that we should stop protecting it, when there are other species to be concerned about. "Protecting" it would basically involve slaughtering every single coyote in the area, to stop them hybridising. The irony is, red wolves simply are coyotes, and obviously want to mate with their own kind. There is nothing particularly special about the red wolf warranting its continued purity: pure coyotes do just as well in regulating deer populations.

I say, let them reabsorb back into the coyote population. It's what they want, and they've only been the way they are for something like 300 years (I know of domestic dog breeds much older than that).
I cannot see that wolves are in any way nobler in character than hyenas- Frederick Selous

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Re: The Red Wolf: Does it Deserve Protection?

Post by Koa » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:34 pm

I agree, actually. There's no need for protection when it's already "far-gone" to begin with... no one can undo the hybridization they've gone through, so I don't see why people think they can. What's done is done and it's fine with me if they continue.
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Re: The Red Wolf: Does it Deserve Protection?

Post by La Striata » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:17 am

The funny thing is, the term "red wolf" was originally used in the 19th century to describe the maned wolf. When John James Audubon saw red-coloured wolves in Texas, he simply assumed they were the same species, not realising that what he was seeing was simply a colour-phase of the ordinary grey wolf (heck, Iberian grey wolves are of a startling red colour).

The irony is, the drawing Audubon did of the "red wolf" he saw doesn't look anything like the red wolves we know today (see here: http://retrieverman.files.wordpress.com ... -wolf.jpeg . Note the broad gray-wolf like muzzle). Further proof of this is this photo of a trapped animal made in the 1920s, labelled as a "red wolf": http://retrieverman.files.wordpress.com ... s-wolf.jpg . Again, note the size of the muzzle and small ears.

As Koa said the modern-day red wolf, whatever it may have been, is so far gone that it can no longer really be considered a true wolf anymore: it's quite simply a coyote with a wolf as a great great great great.... great great grandfather, which isn't really that special, considering how many coyote populations elsewhere have done exactly the same thing, and have way more wolf content.
I cannot see that wolves are in any way nobler in character than hyenas- Frederick Selous

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