Red Wolf DNA discovered in Galveston coyotes, researchers say

GALVESTON, Texas – Researchers with the Gulf Coast Canine Project and the Galveston Police Animal Services Division held a town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss and take questions on the island coyotes and their unique DNA.

“These coyotes on the island carry a pretty substantial fraction of their ancestry derived from Red Wolves,” said Dr. Bridgette VanHoldt with the Gulf Coast Canine Project.

The DNA discovery was announced several years ago despite the belief that Red Wolves had been extinct for about 40 years.

“The red wolf is critically endangered. There’s only about 20 left in the wild in North Carolina which is a reintroduced population and less than 250 in a captive population,” said Dr. Kristin Brzeski with the Gulf Coast Canine Project.

Researchers have spent significant time studying the Island Coyotes ever since.

“One of the important things is understanding what has retained and maintained this red wolf ancestry,” said Brzeski said.

Wednesday’s town hall is slated to address questions and concerns involving the Coyotes and what this means for the species going forward.

“We’re trying to reshape the way that we view conservation possibility and extend that to an animal or any species which we consider to be common,” VanHoldt added.

About the Author:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.