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The coyote ( Canis latrans ) is a canine native to North America . It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf , and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf . It fills much of the same ecological niche as the golden jackal does in Eurasia , though it is larger and more predatory, and is sometimes called the American jackal by zoologists. Other names for the species, largely historical, include prairie wolf and brush wolf .