Friday, March 26, 2010

Are coyote-wolf hybrids the next big thing?

Yes, they just caught a coyote in NYC (I went with Fox News because it combines the most reactionary headline with the cutest man-on-the street quote at the end, plus it has 500% less puns than the Post). That's not really surprising. I kind of expect to see coyotes everywhere. What I'm worried about is idiots finding out about coyote-wolf hybrids.

Anyone who's spent time around any sort of U.S. bumpkins will have heard people claim that their dog is part coyote. Personally, I never believed 'em. (Okay, I only met one guy who claimed this, at a Knight's Inn in Knoxville, but upon repeating the story, I've heard other people who have heard the same claim.) Now, this story mostly blew up last fall, but you may have missed it. Luckily, I think a lot of people did, or else there might have been more sensationalism about the girl who got killed by coyotes in Nova Scotia. I'm not looking forward to the ill-informed bar-conversations that I'm going to overhear when people start realizing that this is a possibility. Look at this article, written with the down-homesy knowledge of a Dwight Shrute. He's probably right about most things, but really mixes things up when he says, "They're wolves, not dogs." You see, they're both technically dogs, but the wolf is the SAME species as the domesticated dog, whereas the coyote isn't.

Here's an example which illustrates why coywolves bother me. One time a ranger told one of my friends that he should stay out of the Santa Fe watershed area because there was a 500 lb. cougar on the loose up there. I know that there has never been a cougar found much above 200 lbs. 500 lbs. is the size of an adult African Lion. Now there are two possibilities for his motivation: A) he wanted to scare someone straight by giving an inflated size to the cat, or B) he just plain believed there was a cougar that big. Both of these might stem from some sort of storytelling need, but sometimes storytelling crosses a little too much into stubborn and willfully ignorant and you get a hybrid more dangerous than a coywolf, but much less adaptable.

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