DaDane of DaWeek

 Created: 12/10/07


 – Newest DaDane

 – Previous DaDane

 – Archived DaDanes

 – Copyright Policy


  Available now 
  DaDane of DaWeek
  T-shirts & Sweatshirts

  Coming soon...
  DaDane Notecards &

Great Dane Links Directory

Loading image...


December 10, 2007 — Last week's story about our deadly predator generated a lot of interest and commentary from the audience. Here is an update:

tracksWas it a Coyote, Coydog or Feral Dog?
I spoke with two professional trappers last week. One was from our local community here in central SC. The other was from Ohio. Both agreed that the tracks from the first kill (a goose) were NOT left by a coyote. Based on the size of the prints and nature of the kill, they felt the predator was probably a coydog or feral dog. Our local trapper, Chip Sharpe, explained that a coydog is a cross between a coyote and a feral dog, most commonly the offspring of a male coyote and female dog. Depending on the size of the mother, these hybrids can grow much larger than a regular coyote. Sharpe informed me that we have plenty of coydogs in our area, plus a population of feral dogs. I didn't realize that feral dogs are not simply domestic/stray dogs gone wild. Feral dogs are born in the wild with no human contact whatsoever. They, along with coyotes and coydogs, are wily predators seldom seen by the general public except, perhaps, as road kill.

How about an Otter?
otterBoth trappers believe the second kill (a swan) was by a different predator altogether, one that probably approached from the water. Although the swan's body had been moved quite a distance from its nightly roosting area, we saw no obvious tracks along the shoreline, no sign of dragging and no trail of feathers. The swan was consumed right at the water's edge. Mr. Sharpe suggested the culprit was an otter. I find this a little hard to believe. We've lived on this property for over 20 years — with no otters. Sharpe told me otters typically start "moving" at the end of November. He suggested the southeastern drought might be pushing them into wider territories as their food supply dwindles. Well, maybe, but I'm not convinced.

bobcatPerhaps it was a Bobcat
John Ware, a licensed trapper and state trapping instructor out of Ohio (who just happens to own 2 Great Danes!) contacted me early last week after reading our story. We had a long conversation, which I thoroughly enjoyed. John seems to think we're dealing with a bobcat. He informed me that bobcats are comfortable wading, and even swimming. They will not hesitate to attack their prey in shallow water. And just because we haven't spotted any on the property, it doesn't mean they aren't here. Female bobcats can range up to 6 square miles; males may cover as much as 60 miles. That's a lot of distance. Considering the severity of our drought, I suspect many species of predators are modifying their habits in order to survive. Personally, I'm guessing our swan was taken by a bobcat.

What to Do?
Our birds roost along the edge of our 8 acre pond at night, about 40 yards from the house. To their immediate left sits the dock; to their right, a long uninterrupted shoreline; behind them, our front yard. The drought has lowered the pond by 4 feet, leaving the birds with a lengthy "beach" that extends 10 yards out from the natural shoreline. The beach slopes into what is now a shallow expanse of water for another 10 yards. shorelineIf attacked — either from the front or behind — they don't have much of an escape route, especially since they can't fly.

Someone suggested we construct a floating dock. We already have one in the middle of the pond. The birds have never roosted there, although the dock has been used for nesting from time to time. Perhaps we could move it closer to shore. Then again, maybe we should build a new float with sloped access from all four sides. But if there's one thing I've learned about waterfowl, it's that they don't readily change their habits. Assuming we can't change the behavior of the birds, how might we control the predators? Next week I'll tell you what the trappers said.


©2002-2008 by Ginnie Saunders. All rights are reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system — without written permission from Ginnie Saunders. To learn more about copyright issues on the web, visit the Web Law FAQ., Inc.   
PO Box 50314   
Columbia, SC 29250   
(803) 783-3169   

Go to DogWare!