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Newfoundland wolf

The Newfoundland wolf (Canis lupus beothucus) was a subspecies of the gray wolf, which existed on the island of Newfoundland off the east coast of Canada. This extinct wolf was said to have been a large, white animal with a black stripe down its spine.

Recently, coyotes, (Canis latrans) or eastern coyotes from mainland Canada[1] have filled the niche formerly occupied by the Newfoundland wolf. But the eastern coyotes are actually coywolf hybrids [2]and that some of them may have backcross with various maritime grey wolf populations in the Atlantic coast.

History[edit]

European settlers were quick to view the wolf as a cattle killer, and so set out to destroy the island population by setting a bounty on the animal. On September 14, 1839, the colonial government proclaimed a wolf bounty of five pounds. Hunting, trapping and vigorous predator control methods quickly reduced the wolf population on the island. This, combined with a reported caribou population decline, seem the most likely causes of the wolf's demise. By 1911 the last wild wolf was shot, although the official extinction is dated 1930.

The subspecies was not formally described until after its extinction. Appropriately, its scientific name means "Beothuk Wolf"—after the Native American inhabitants of Newfoundland (the Beothuk) who are likewise extinct.

In March 2012, a hunter shot and killed a large canine on the Bonavista Peninsula in Newfoundland, thinking it to be a coyote; genetic testing found it to be a Labrador Wolf, which had most likely migrated to Newfoundland over sea ice during a previous winter.[3]

In July 2012, a video posted on YouTube showed a canine which exhibited nearly all characteristics of a wolf. The video was taken in Clode Sound, Terra Nova National Park, and was captured using a motion-sensitive trail camera set up as part of a joint research project on coastal river otters. Despite all the evidence that a wolf population is recolonizing the island of Newfoundland, there is still no evidence of a breeding population.[4]

On 23 August 2012, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation published the results of genetic testing of a large canine trapped on the Baie Verte Peninsula in 2009, confirming that this animal was also a Labrador Wolf. [5]

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