Dogs killed by unknown predator - can a necropsy determine the predator?
February 26, 2013 8:56 AM   Subscribe

My friend's two shepherds were recently killed by an unknown predator. The vet thinks they may have been killed by coyotes. Is it possible for a necropsy to determine what type of animal killed them (eg. coyote, bear, cougar, bobcat)?
posted by Minos888 to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
You can do DNA testing any saliva left on the corpse. I know this because it was done in our area on deer where people feared a big cat was in the area.
posted by vacapinta at 9:08 AM on February 26, 2013

Where does your friend live? What sort of predators roam the woods? Where were the dogs killed?

I'm skeptical that a coyote could kill two German Shepherds, or that it would even want to. Coyotes tend to go for smaller, easier prey. A pack of coyotes can definitely kill a larger dog, though. I've heard that a single coyote can lure a large dog away from its territory and into a pack of coyotes, but I'm not sure that this would work with two dogs.

Has your friend talked to local animal control officers?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't think of many animals that would willingly take on a German Shepherd - but an abandoned fighting dog would be my first suspect. Talk with animal control, something big enough and agressive enough to go after a pair of big dogs is not something you want in your woods.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:59 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd be extremely surprised if a coyote killed a Shepard, much less two. They're only 25-30lbs and have poor bite strength. Shepards should eat then for breakfast.. Your state Fish and Game should be your next call imho. They can likely tell you from the bite marks and will have a genetics lab or can refer you to one.

Keep in mind most vets have no more experience with wildlife than the general public.
posted by fshgrl at 11:22 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Btw, my first guess would be that a person killed them via small bore gun or poison and coyote chewed on the bodies. A human is by far the most likely reason for two big dogs to both be killed. I would definitely do a necrospy, ideally at a teaching veterinarian hospital.
posted by fshgrl at 11:24 AM on February 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Coyotes can, and have, killed human beings, so it's reasonable to expect that they may have killed your dogs, as your vet, an expert, has suggested.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:38 AM on February 26, 2013

A toddler was killed in CA kokoryu, the only confirmed US fatality. The Canadian girl that died a few years ago was killed by eastern coyotes, which are pretty consistently being shown to be gray wolf hybrids via DNA studies. So a different species basically. West of the Mississippi coyotes are pretty small and I would vote for neighbour as the dangerous predator.
posted by fshgrl at 12:01 PM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, it's a very specific question, please answer it if you can but do not get into an argument with one another about what you think coyotes will or won't do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2013

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