Recent occurrences of wild-origin wolves (Canis spp.) in Canada south of the St. Lawrence River revealed by stable isotope and genetic analysis
Keywords:Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, Eastern Wolf, Canis lycaon, Coyote, Canis latrans, conservation, stable isotopes, genetic analysis, new Brunswick, Quebec, St. Lawrence River
A free-ranging canid killed near Caraquet, New Brunswick, Canada, in 2012 exhibited a mitochondrial DNA sequence of Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) origin and a Y-chromosome haplotype of Eastern Wolf (C. lycaon) origin. The animal, which is the first wolf recorded in New Brunswick since 1862, was identified as a Gray–Eastern Wolf hybrid (C. lupus x C. lycaon) based on analysis of its autosomal microsatellite genotype. Stable carbon isotope values (δ13C) suggest that the Caraquet wolf was of wild origin. Likewise, δ13C analysis suggests that a wolf–coyote hybrid killed in Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River in 2002 was also of wild origin. However, δ13C values for a wolf from the same region in 2006 suggest that this animal spent most of its life feeding predominantly on non-wild-source food items. Recent occurrences of wild-origin animals south of the St. Lawrence River demonstrate that wolves are capable of dispersal to formerly occupied areas in southeastern Canada and the United States. However, limited natural dispersal alone will likely not be sufficient to re-establish wolves in northeastern North America.
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