Environmental Educator Investigates Reported Coywolf Sightings in Philly | NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Environmental Educator Investigates Reported Coywolf Sightings in Philly

Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is collecting testimonies from staff and residents who have reportedly spotted coyotes in the Roxborough area.

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    Environmental Educator Investigates Reported Coywolf Sightings in Philly
    Photo courtesy of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
    A paw print found during the snowstorm of what's expected to be of a coyote's.

    Big Foot and the Lochness Monster have always been the most popular urban myths. Could "coywolves" in Philadelphia be the next one?

    Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is collecting testimonies from staff and residents who have reportedly spotted coyotes in the Roxborough area and writing about it in his blog.

    Although the sightings are rare, they are of no surprise to Weilbacher who believes coyotes have been populating across Pennsylvania for a while.

    "Historically, we've had wolves in Pennsylvania, but they were vanished from the state," he said. " Since then, coyotes have been moving up from the southwest because there are no wolves to prey on them."

    However, Weilbacher says that it's possible that these four-legged animals are hybrid coyotes.

    "These coyotes have dog and wolf DNA in them; people have been calling them 'coywolves'," he said.

    This explains why coyotes-- a western species more likely found in prairie and desert -- are acclimating themselves to suburbs and big cities.

    The dog-wolf-coyote hybrid is slightly bigger than a coyote's average size, Weilbacher said. However, all else remains the same.

    "They can eat a variety of things. They're most likely eating small animals such as mice, rodents and squirrels -- but they can also eat berries and fruits," he said.

    Weilbacher claims the few sightings are due to the species' elusiveness and shyness.

    "Coyotes are quiet and do not like being seen," he said. "More people have seen footprints than anything else."

    To read Weilbacher's blog about the "coywolf" and coyote sightings, click here.