Cape Cod Coyotes vs. Wolves: What do we have here?

It has been known for several years that the coyotes in the Cape Cod area have much in common with wolves. Mainly wolf DNA. Some coyotes in MA that have been tested have come up as 90% eastern wolf. I have received a number of reports where people claim to have seen large, wolf-like canines on Cape Cod.

Let’s compare a Cape Cod coyote with a Red Wolf. See the two photos below:

A CCNS photo of a Cape Cod coyote on the beach in Provincetown

A Red Wolf in Georgia

A Wikimedia photo of a captive Red Wolf in Georgia

The Wiki Gray Wolf page cites:

The red wolf, a coyote with distant wolf ancestry.


Apparently we have what are known as “CoyWolves” here. Which explains the numerous sightings of large, wolf-like canines on Cape Cod.

…Coywolves have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and the coyote characteristic of lack of fear of human-developed areas. They seem to be bolder and more intelligent than regular coyotes…

…Wolves and coyotes are interbreeding to create an animal that has the pack-hunting instinct of wolves and the fearlessness of coyotes…

…Some of these are 80-pound animals, double the size of a typical coyote that used to be 40 pounds…

…instances of fearlessness or brazen attacks are usually the result of coyotes that have come to associate food with people and lose their natural fear of humans…

— quotes via Meet the Coywolf

Here’s a couple images of a coywolf caught on a trail cam in Duxbury, MA tell me that doesn’t look like a wolf…

Trail Cam CoyWolf Duxbury, MA

Trail Cam CoyWolf

Coywolf Trail Camera Pic

Coywolf Trail Camera Pic

What do you think? Have the wolves returned to Cape Cod?


Cape Cod Coyotes vs. Wolves: What do we have here? — 28 Comments

  1. Definitely coy wolf. We were sitting on our porch in the woods in Wellfleet last evening around 7:30 and one walked through our property right up to the house and then back down into the woods. Our land is protected as part of the Herring River Estuary and easy for animals to travel a long way with only a few streets to cross.

    Too big for a coyote and too skinny and tall for a wolf. No fear. Just ambled by

    • Leslie you mentioned it was tall and skinny, read my story below, we may have saw the same animal, or at the very least a very similar one. The one I have now seen twice, didn’t seem particularly skinny, but it WAS very tall, bigger than I have ever seen. Just as you said, he ambled through the parking lot, not a care in the world. He was moving at a good pace but not trotting or running. I don’t know what he did when my little dog gave chase, they both disappeared from view into a little wooded area behind a house where a couple of small children live. I am VERY thankful it didn’t turn and attack my dog. It DOES make me worry for the kids and pets in the area

  2. Last night for the second time this summer, I saw what I thought to be a VERY large wolf in our development here in Brewster. I am not a native New Englander so I wasn’t sure what kind of large predators are present here. The thing that scared me to death is, my 9 lb Morkie, Jezebel was sitting on the patio with me and, I had just seen this HUGE creature and before I could grab her she took off in hot pursuit! I just KNEW this “wolf” was going to turn on her and kill her. I charged towards the wooded area and thankfully the wolf apparently decided she wasn’t worth the trouble. Scared me to death. The moral of this story folks, is, if you have small pets that you love, KEEP AN EYE ON THEM. 95% of the time, my little girl is on her leash, but I saw no harm in her sitting in my lap as I enjoyed a cool summer evening, I was WRONG and I can assure you she won’t be out with me without a leash again…..One other thing, this thing that I saw was FAR bigger than any coyote I have ever seen, and was at LEAST as large as the biggest wolf I have seen. The head of this creature was 3 feet, and he had to weigh 100 LBs

  3. We were sitting on the porch in Eastham last night and what appeared to be a good sized coyote or wolf walked through the yard about 20 feet away. It watched us but kept right on going. It was a little unnerving how close it was but it didn’t seem aggressive or overly concerned with us. People should be careful walking their dogs at night or if small children are playing outdoors.

  4. Vacationing on Cockle Cove Beach. Saw a very large coywolf? On beach and then it crossed Parking lot and went into the marsh. We did not seem to frighten it at all. Looked more like the wolf picture than the coyote picture. Maybe 70 lbs.

    • We were vacationing on Cockle Cove Rd. about the same tine as you and were stunned to see what was probably the same animal. I was also playing golf at Cranberry Valley a few days later and saw one on the golf course.

  5. Out walking my little dog Mashpee conservation area seen a wolf for sure, it was alone. Was a little bit scared seen a lot of coyote but never a wolf. 5 minutes later see a mink. Great day, that will never happen again.

  6. Today, November 2, 2014 I was outside at 11 am in South Yarmouth when I saw a large grey wolf like animal. 70 lbs. We live in a well developed area. It was 30 feet from house. It walked slowly to street and continued on its way. I was thankful my yard is fenced as my Aussie Shepard was out.

  7. My son came down the stairs about midnight last night, Nov. 8TH and out the top window in the door saw a larger than coyote “wolf”. We’d been told that there were coy wolves or something similar in the Shawme Crowell State Forest, which we live across the street from.
    This animal slipped into the woods along our driveway but we certainly did not frighten it away. We could hear him staying along the perimeter for quite some time.
    It makes me think that this might be why our cat has been agitated the last few evenings. So glad she does not go outside…
    Maybe the animal will get the woodchuck who is threatening to eat all my new bulbs….just hope he doesn’t run into our resident and nearly all white skunk who visits under our birdfeeder each night. (Slim pickings tonight, 13 turkeys just cleaned up the area…maybe the coons will come shake out some more seed for them!)
    It’s a wild wild world on Cape Cod!! Love it!!

  8. I live in Centerville near a cranberry bog. We have spotted them on the bog as well as in our back yard.

    They started howling last night. I was hoping to see some tracks this afternoon, but the snow melted.

    It certainly got my nerves on end. It was difficult to see them.

  9. My family (my brother and sister and their respective kids and spouses) were gathered together in June of last year (2014) watching tv in my Mom’s living room in East Dennis (the house is in between Sesuit Harbor and Scargo Lake). At about 10PM, I heard a slight “scratching” noise and got up to take a look out the back floor to ceiling window (which looks out on a large grassy area and then a wooded area). To my surprise (and that of the whole family!), there was a HUGE coyote (coywolf?) ON THE BACK DECK! And if that wasn’t enough, a few minutes later, a SECOND smaller coyote joined him–just sauntering across the deck–back and forth a few times–then off into the woods.
    I have also seen several foxes in the area, turkeys, occasional ring necked pheasants, opossums, and raccoons, but my ALL TIME FAVORITE is the set of triplet deer that are now @4 years old. Locals have seen these deer since they were tiny fawns, so we know they are triplets..they are ALWAYS seen together..

  10. Hi! I just moved to cape cod from Pennsylvania! I have spotted fox back in PA on a few occasions, but living in south Yarmouth, I have heard many wolf/coyote packs howling. It sounds like screaming children at first! So weird! And i have spotted them a few times as well. Tonight I saw (much closer) a larger looking wolf! Kinda spooked me but I’m pretty sure they are harmless! But now I need to go walk my golden retriever and it is dark! Wish me luck, people! As you may know, golden retrievers aren’t the best guard dogs! But maybe she will look intimidating in the dark!

  11. On 6/27/15 at 5:30 I watched a very large brown creature with a busy tail attack my bird feeder in South Wellfleet. It was about 4ft tall when standing on 2 legs. From the descriptions I have read, I believe it was a coywolf.

  12. Ok, coming down mont ell at 7:30, we saw it, my wife ,bless her soul and poor vision started calling to it thinking it was a dog. I was positive from the head and tail and torso that it was a fox but it’s legs were LONG and skinny. I wish I had my camera phone out but it was only 10 seconds in our view.

  13. My daughter lives by the cranberry bog in Centerville and we visit from out of town. Two years ago we saw our first coyote and last year heard the howling. This year her babysitter saw two crossing the road and the howling at times fills the house. I keep reading they are ok but I’ ve also read about the reproduction and it seems a little scary to me.

    We’ve been coming her for 39 years and it seems there are many more and they are less afraid of being near people. Is there any plan to limit the numbers as they continue to bred and grow there packs?

  14. I’ve seen a pair of coyotes cut through my property into abutting state forest and conservation land also in Mashpee over the years. For the last year or so I’ve heard and seen what looks to be a lone wolf (size/color of a Husky) move about from the conservation land to various spots where he stops and howls for a few minutes. On occasion I’ve heard what seems to be an attack on a nearby chicken coop.

    As a result of this I’ve been extremely cautious with my Yorkie who has a need to relieve himself 2-3 times each night between the hours of 11PM and 3-4AM. Since I’m retired and sometimes up till 3am it is not unusual for me to let him out front to do his business (avoiding the rear of the property that abuts the forest. For safety I turn up a 250 watt lamp post that lights up the entire front of the house and I stand on the front deck keeping my eyes on my pet and make sure that he stays within my sight at all times. Two nights ago the usual process played out at 1:45 am but as my Yorkie was taking his sweet time, sniffing around the deck in no hurry to get out to the lamp post to relieve himself, I decided I had time to do the same and came back about 1 minute later only to find my friend/companion of 9 yrs had disappeared! I called and searched the entire property and the neighbors yard without a trace … no indication of a skirmish, no footprints in the dew covered lawn or indication of blood or defecation. Simply vanished w/o a bark or a squeal that he had been preyed upon. No indication of a car at that hour that might have stopped and grabbed him and no indication that for some reason he had run off (not his M.O. during day and esp not in the evening) to chase vermin or another dog/cat and again no barking.

    A morning check of the entire neighborhood streets and even a search of forest & conservation land failed to turn up a clue. I can only assume the “wolf” that I’ve tried to protect my Yorkie from found his opening when he didn’t see me standing on the deck the other night. Last night he was back, howling from his usual spot as if to celebrate his victory over my stupidity to drop my guard for even a minute and my ultimate loss!

  15. In the Bourne/Cataumet cranberry bogs area we are very used to coywolves yipping and howling. The sound or tone is always at a mid to high level. However, in disbelief and spooked with the hairs raising up on our arms we have heard a howl so strong and echoing in a low deep tone we all know from horror movies.

  16. On 10/27/2015 I saw a large coy wolf cross Highway 39 near the intersection of Pleasant Bay Road in East Harwich around 2 PM. It was large around 80 lbs with golden hair with a thick mane and a long thick tail. It appeared healthy. What a fabulous experience!

  17. No sightings of wolves here on the Cape. Yes there are coyotes here, some of them are pretty big.
    Up north of the state, Maine, there has been sightings of Wolves.
    Not Cape Cod. Coyotes are use to people were Wolves stay as far away as they can. I have seen a wolf out in Montana & heard them, they are such a beautiful animal & so very much misunderstood

  18. Just about all dogs & Coyotes have DNA of Wolf.
    Think: Where did our canine’s come from?
    Like people think about it, we all share some of the same DNA as we all came from Adam & Eve

  19. My family has been on the Avenues in West Hyannisport for over 35 years. I have seen coyotes in the marshes and walking the avenues for a long time. Last week I saw something very different.
    The animal I saw was larger than our German Sheppard. It was dusk as I turn onto 6th Avenue and had to slow the car to let it cross in front of me. It was galloping. I would almost be tempted to say it was a wolf; reddish brown in color, broad chested and muscular, slim head and pointed jaw – very much wolf-like. I’d estimate the weight at about 80-90 lbs, It was big!
    I’d be careful walking the areas now. I am not so sure this thing would have been afraid of anything.

  20. It’s 2am and I just heard what sounded like a pack of wolves howling outside my house on Cape Cod. It really freaked me out.

  21. I live in southern Utah and visited my daughter in Harwich last month. I have seen numerous coyotes where I live and my neighbor has a “pet” wolf, so I know what the
    two animals look like. During my visit we went out for a drive around her home off Route
    39 and I saw what was most definitely a wolf, not a large dog or coyote by any stretch of the imagination. The animal was 80+ pounds and very healthy looking. What a great and unexpected experience!

  22. Last night in North Eastham a big dog like animal ran right behind me while I was out grilling. I was sitting quietly and heard an animal in the woods nearby (we are very wooded in this area) behind me. When I realized it was a large animal, I jumped up to see it and what I believe to be a coyote/wolf mix was about 30 yards in front of me. We made eye contact, it was a very large animal, not like the coyotes I’ve seen before. looking at these pictures I realize it was Coywolf! Scary and cool all the same time.

  23. When driving into Brewster on Rt 137 at about 3:00 PM today I braked hard and barely avoided an approx. 80-90 pound very tall coy wolf (as determined by what we saw after I looked it up online) which was trotting across the road. He turned around and returned west unharmed from where he had come.
    Quite a large animal to suddenly appear and almost be hit by us Brooklyn, NY residents vacationing on The Cape I!!

  24. I have seen maybe 25+ of these coywolf’s in South Dennis over the past 2 years. One actually walked right up to me when I was sitting on my front stairs, bigger than a German Shepard, and had no fear until I stood up and it bolted threw the woods. Off airline and RT.134 there are tons of them. If you drive on the back roads at night for more than 30 mins. you will spot at least 1-2 of them.. October I noticed there seems to be a hell of a lot more.. Maybe cause all the tourist are gone..

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