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A coydog acts just like a coyote and is nobody's pet, a wildlife officer warns.


Published: Sat, March 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


A coydog acts just like a coyote and is nobody's pet, a wildlife officer warns.
By ED RUNYAN
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HE WILD DOG CAUGHT BY A BAZETTA TOWNSHIP man on the edge of woods behind his house shows that coyotes are nearby.
Greg Savu of Andrews Drive, an experienced trapper, said the animal weighed 40 pounds. His family thinks a coyote killed their toy poodle two years ago.
"We commonly see them in the fields, though not so much in recent years," Savu said of coyotes, adding he would see them mostly during the day -- but can hear them "sounding off" at night.
Jeremy Byers, a research technician at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, looked at a photo of Savu's catch and said he and fellow wildlife officers think it was part coyote, part wild dog -- the definition of a coydog.
Its presence indicates that full-blooded coyotes are nearby, he said.
"It's a wild animal," Byers explained. "In the picture we saw in the office, there was some wavering on whether it was coyote, dog or coydog. So, I would say it was somewhere in the middle -- coy."
Tri-county presence
Coyotes are considered to be of medium abundance in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties. He said the Mahoning Valley produces fewer coyote complaints than Cuyahoga County, for instance, because the animals are closer to people there.
"Just because we put a housing development in doesn't mean they won't be there," Byers said.
Savu said the coydog he caught in January was the first he has trapped, though he first began seeing coyotes several years ago in his neighborhood, where he has lived his whole life.
The trap was placed about 400 yards from his house. After trapping the animal, he shot it.
It is just as legal to kill one as a coyote, Byers explained.
Byers said the animal in the photo had a nose that was a little too blunt and its fur a little too fluffy to be a pure coyote.
It's wild
Still: "It's a coyote for all intents and purposes that acts just like a coyote. The only question is its genetic makeup. It's nobody's pet. It's not going to act like Old Shep," he said referring to a dog in an Elvis Presley song.
Byers said research from about 20 years ago indicated that the Ohio coyote population consisted of about 1 percent to 2 percent coydog.
Savu said coyotes are opportunity feeders. "They would definitely eat it," he said of his poodle, which weighed about 10 pounds. The poodle was out with the family's two Brittany spaniels when Savu's father heard some commotion. He went outside and found the poodle gone.
He followed tracks in the dew through a field, but after a certain point, the Brittanys wouldn't follow. Savu said he thinks the dogs were afraid after seeing what happened to the poodle.
Savu said he has a friend who contends coyotes killed 10 to 12 ducks that were living near her home in Brookfield. He has another friend nearby in Bazetta who has trapped three coyotes near his home.
"They prey on easy targets. They are much smarter than a fox. They'll prey on dogs because they hear them yapping," Savu said.
Byers said coyotes are considered a nuisance animal and can be hunted any time in Ohio. He said they live in all 88 Ohio counties.
Coyotes like to live in areas where people have left food out -- either garbage or pet food, even bird feeders. Coyotes like to eat rodents, which are also attracted to these types of human or pet food, he said. Humans also provide habitat for coyotes, such as brush piles or porches, he said.
The best thing residents can do to avoid having problems with coyotes is keep trash and pet food away from them. Even wet, mushy dog food that your pet won't eat would be an attractive meal to a coyote, Byers said. "They will take advantage of every opportunity to eat."
Byers said coyotes generally don't bother most dogs but will kill cats and small dogs. He suggests homeowners keep these pets inside, at least at night. At the very least, take a look around in the dark to prevent them from being attacked.
Byers said an average dog weighs 60 to 70 pounds, which is about double the weight of an average coyote.
Additionally, dogs view it as their job to protect their homes from coyotes. The domesticated dog, which sees the coyote as "just another dog," is usually the animal that initiates a scrap with a coyote, Byers said.
The coyote is not looking to prey on other dogs. Instead, the coyote's mentality is to move on for fear of getting hurt by a bigger dog, he said.
Coyotes make their presence known more in the early spring, when they are looking for mates and vocalize, he said.
If a homeowner has removed all extra food sources in the area, and a coyote still seems to be acting in a brazen manner, then it is time to call a nuisance trapper, Byers said. "By no means are you going to remove them all," he said, but it might help the situation.
Coyotes are more common in the central and southwestern parts of Ohio. The statewide population trend has leveled off after increases in the 1990s. Recent increases in the value of and demand for its fur should result in more coyotes' being hunted this year, the ODNR reports.
Areas considered the best for viewing and hunting coyotes include the Delaware Wildlife Area in Delaware County; Deer Creek Wildlife Area in Fayette, Madison and Pickaway counties; Fallsville Wildlife area in Highland County; Caesar Creek Lake Wildlife Area in Greene, Warren and Clinton counties; and the Spring Valley Wildllife Area in Greene and Warren counties.
runyan@vindy.com


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