Look at that strange beast in the shadows! It’s a wolf! It’s a coyote! No, it’s a...coywolf? Um, sure. That’s what the Clarkstown Police Department in Rockland County, New York have claimed is responsible for a number of reported sightings of a strange, grey creature roaming around the city of Congers. Several residents reported seeing a large, dog-like animal lurking about, and even stalking human prey. Clarkstown Police have even managed to capture a photo of the beast.
One local man, Sean McCormack, recounted to CBS New York reporters how he watched one of the mysterious animals seemingly hunting one of his neighbors as she walked her trash to the curb:
It looks larger than your average coyote. It seemed to be stalking her and kind of followed her back up onto her driveway. Very scary, yeah, very scary.
So what exactly is a coywolf? The curious animal goes by many names: coywolf, woyote, or eastern coyote. In the wild, wolves and coyotes can interbreed and create the hybrid species due to the fact that wolves and coyotes diverged somewhere between just 6,000 and 100,000 years ago. Based on genetic studies, scientists estimate that almost all North American wolves are related on some level to coyotes thanks to extensive inbreeding. Coywolves can grow larger than most coyotes, reaching up to 75 pounds (34 kg).
NBC4 New York reports that local police are warning residents to keep pets indoors and to make loud noises and try to make themselves appear bigger should they encounter one of the seemingly emboldened animals. While it’s neat hearing about sightings of lesser-known hybrid animals, these encounters reveal an increasingly common and unfortunate fact of 21st-century life. As the human virus continues to creep over the face of the Earth, the little critters of nature with whom we share this organic spaceship have less and less room in which they can exist. As humanity spreads to every corner of the once natural world, who knows what strange undiscovered beasts we might find?