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? — 48 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

      • It’s more than six years later–I just saw one that matches the description, except I wouldn’t call it skinny. Ambled by the house and disappeared into the woods.

  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.

    • I’m also in Centerville and not too far from the cranberry bog. But my house has lots of open, wild space right behind it. Similar time of year (late January – early February) coywolfs (or whatever) have been howling, setting my shih-tzu off with almost non-stop barking. It’s hard not to take him out in the dark for early or late bathroom business, but I try to stay close to the house, and keep my flashlight checking for movement. It’s a bit scary.

  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

    • Dustie – actually that’s innacurate, There are indeed wolves and/or “wolf-hybrids” on Cape Cod. Wolves have bred with coyotes in the area for decades now (i.e. “Coywolves”). I’ve been in Eastham for 30 years and have seen them in the area first hand numerous times. For context, I personally raised a grey wolf from a pup and have encountered many red wolves throughout my travels, so definitely know the difference. I’ve had neighbors who shot and killed a coyote that had severe mange – much smaller animals. Coyotes don’t usually grow over 35-40 pounds. The coywolves out here are easily 50+ animals, some could be bigger. Thankfully they are not generally aggressive towards people and tend to avoid them. They usually don’t mess with medium to large size dogs either, but they could definitely kill a small lap dog. Then again so could a coyote or even a fisher cat, of which we also have plenty of.

  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. Just saw a coyote walk by our house on Hay road in Eastham. It was the first coyote I have seen..Jt

  23. 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.

  24. 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!!

  25. 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..

  26. I live in West Dennis near Fisk Street and Loring. I let the dog out 2 nights ago. When she came onto the deck I noticed a large coyote no more than 10 yards away. No fear at all exhibited by the coyote. My dog is 60lbs. The coyote was larger.

  27. At around 8:35pm tonight, I saw a coyote that looked about the same size as my dog (50 pounds) casually walk through my front yard. Wasn’t startled at all by my dogs extremely loud barking. I live in Mashpee, MA by the way.

  28. Last Friday I spotted a coyote which looked like the top picture in color, but it had to be at least 80 lbs and healthy – not like the coyotes I have seen before. I was in North Dennis and I was out with my puppy at 5:45 am. I picked up the dog and ran back inside, but had to go around to the other side of the house as the Coyote/wolf was between the house and me. It followed us around on our way to the other side of the house – slowly. I paused to see if it would follow us and sure enough it cautiously did. Going to be very careful with the pup in the next few weeks and take the advice to yell at the animal and not run away.

  29. I have a house in Harwich near a conservation wooded area. Last week from inside my house, at 9:00 am, I saw a large flash run across our front lawn. I immediately ran to the side, where we have multiple large windows, and saw a large (70-80 lb) beautiful black and white wolf running very fast towards the conservation area. I say wolf because we owned a Samoyed (white siberian husky dog) for 13 years, and it reminded me of him in looks with less hair — I googled images of wolves and coyotes and what I saw running looked like the wolves. The spots (which were perfect black and white marks) were beautiful almost like a dalmation — but “scary” since it was not a dog. It also ran fast like a thoroughbred.

  30. November11th,2017
    I let my two dogs out at 5am while I stay on the front step watching them as we have many Fox and coyotes here as we about Nickerson State park. At 7am our little Sheltie somehow snuck out.
    We haven’t seen her since. No sign of her at all. We are wondering if she just went curl up and die outside because she was almost 14 and had some health issues. But I feel that maybe one of these coywolfs did get. We have searched everywhere and we are in a neighborhood with all dead end streets.another small dog went missing in the abutting neighborhood as well.

  31. I live in East Sandwich. Last week out my back window was the largest ‘coyote’ I have ever seen. It had the head of a German Shepherd, full fluffy tail, light colored under coat, darker top coat. It had a very thick neck. (head color darker like its back) It stood motionless long enough to make mental notes of appearance. Since 1998, I’ve seen a number of coyote. They all seemed taller than they were fuller, lanky bodied. This one was noticeably different.

  32. This morning walking my two 55-60 pound dogs on Bay View Rd in South Chatham I noticed what I assumed was a coyote following us. It’s the second time I’ve seen it, or one like it, in two years. We were 1000 yards from the house, so I didn’t turn my back on it, but walked backwards waving my arms and yelling. It kept following us for several minutes. The dogs were stunned and didn’t say anything (which was great, because one of them usually gets very vocal and defensive when frightened.) Finally, it lost interest and veered off into a driveway. I’ve seen coyotes in the marshes, they look 40-50 lbs and when the dogs bark they run off, but as this guy got closer I saw he was tall, skinny, blonde/brown, probably 70-80 lbs, had fur more scruffy like a wolfhound dog than the thick coat of the coyote. I intend to get a whistle and/or a horn canister to take with me from now on, maybe carry a stick, especially at this time of year…

  33. I was walking with my 2 small dogs Feb.2,2018 at 4:15pm. It was still pretty light out and out of no where a huge coywolf appeared on Strawberry Hill Rd. in Hyannis, Ma. He was trotting towards us fast. The dogs and I turned around and were walking home fast but he was gaining. A man in a van stopped and asked if it was a coyote and I said yes and kept walking. The van man tried to move the coywolf down a near street. No luck he kept coming when a woman pulled over and had me jump into her car.She drove me home. I know they are in the watershed area behind me but I never had one be so aggressive.

  34. My brother and I were coming from dinner in Truro when 2 wolves crossed in front us on Shore Rd at Pilgrim Village we followed them into the parking lot. At first we thought they were deer but when we shined our high beams on them they were definitely wolves not coyotes.

  35. Tonight at about 8:30pm, on a cold and drizzly April evening (it had rained on and off all day), we were driving in Chatham, turning onto Bay Lane less than a half mile from Main Street, when we saw two pretty large gray wolf-like creatures, right in front of the car, yards away, in front of the headlights. One had already crossed the street and we just saw it whoosh into the bushes off the road to our left (close to a nearby house). It was so big I first wondered if it was a deer scurrying off the road, before I got a closer look. We then saw that a second creature was still on the right side of the road, hesitating, inching toward the road. We stopped and waited, headlights on, watching, and fairly quickly it too crossed the street in front of us to join its friend on the other side. It looked almost exactly like the last photo above, but also distinctly very gray. So I’m guessing they were coywolves. We don’t know much about the coyote/wolf/coywolf distinctions, though, b/c we’re just visiting from NYC. Great to see this so up close, but at the same time a little unnerving.

  36. There are wolves on Cape Cod, they’ve been there for years. I lived on Otis ANGB back 25 years ago and I saw one on the base back where there were no houses while walking mid afternoon. This massive 100lb+ wolf came jogging out of the pines, saw me then calmly continued to go about 10 feet along the woods, then back into the woods. I was glad it didn’t come toward me…that animal was huge.

    • July 9, 2020. My wife and I, along with our son and his girlfriend were driving through Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster at dusk tonight and my son said “look at that deer”! Well, it was no deer! It was definitely either a wolf or coy wolf. We stopped the car and had a staring contest at 50 feet with this very large animal with light brown fur with white markings on his face and underside. It had to be around 80 lbs. It gave an extended menacing stare before finally turning and trotting across the golf course. Been coming to the Cape for half century and have seen countless coyotes. This was definitely no coyote.

    • I just saw what I think was a wolf come through my yard in Wellfleet around 11AM. Bigger than German Shepherd, tan/brownish, bushy tail. Perhaps could have been a coy-wolf. Made me very nervous about letting the dog out off leash.

  37. Today, around 5:30 am, I saw a coywolf in East Falmouth, Massachusetts, cutting through my yard. Had to be at least 90 pounds. When he saw me he scooted off while I was running to get my dog. 5/21/2020

    • I saw one today in my backyard in Cotuit, Barnstable at 6:50 a.m. My Miniature Pincher was barking his head off because he saw it through the glass storm door, so luckily I waited to take him out until after he left. The coywolf looked black, but as I read this article it must have been a dark red brown. It was very big. I assumed it was pure wolf. It must have been one if the 90 “percenters” mentioned in the article! I’m calling him “Ed”. Sure am glad my fierce little Duke wasn’t breakfast for Ed.

  38. Last night, May 30th, around 10 pm, walking small dogs in Yarmouth Port around the green by the Gorey House – then heading back up 6a (towards Dennis), paused for a minute & looked back – a really tall coywolf sauntered blithely across 6a – he’d been on our side of the street! – & set off down Strawberry Lane. He paused in the middle of the road and looked full at us — 2 adults, 2 small dogs — then turned and headed on his way. He was skinny, long-legged, enormously tall & long, totally confident, beautiful but frankly scary. Was super grateful he wasn’t interested in coming our way.