Canids recently collected in east Texas, with comments on the taxonomy of the red wolf.
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Data on 279 canid skulls collected in east Texas after 1960 are presented and discussed. The skulls vary from those typical of the red wolf to those typical of the coyote, with every intermediate type represented. A possible interpretation of this wide variation is that various altered environmental factors are causing massive hybridization between red wolves and coyotes in east Texas, resulting in a single interbreeding population of great diversity. Possibly this interbreeding should be regarded merely as intergradation, which would imply only subspecific differentiation of red wolf and coyote. But proposal of such a taxonomic change is postponed until the completion of more detailed analyses that are now under way. The assignment of eastern races of red wolf to conspecific status with gray wolf is held to lack sufficient basis for acceptance. To avoid further complicating the taxonomy of North American canids, it is suggested that treatment of the red wolf as a full species be continued until further studies are completed that may throw more light on its relationships to the gray wolf and to the coyote.