Wild and domestic animal interbreeding
There are several hybrid animals that are the result of intentional crosses between similar species of domestic animals. Some that come to mind are intentional crosses between horses and donkeys, producing mules . A male donkey (jack) is bred to a female horse (mare) to produce the mule, which is sterile and cannot reproduce. These parent animals have different numbers of chromosomes. A Hinney is another cross between a male horse (stallion) and a female donkey (jenny) . This cross is much more difficult to produce. Mules have been widely used a pack animals. Others are the Beefalo, crossed to produce a leaner form of meat for consumption. Other types of cattle have been crossed such as cows with yaks.
Intended or unintended crosses between wild and domesticated animals can result in Coydogs, when coyotes and domestic dogs mate and reproduce. The proliferation of coyotes and their adaptation to living in urban areas has resulted in this cross. Other crosses are wolf and dog crosses, which have sometimes been intentionally done to create a tamer wolf with its size and stamina and less aggressiveness towards humans. This has been proven to not be a good idea, as the wild trait in wolves has remained dominate and creates an unpredictable and, at times, aggressive and dangerous animal. Keeping these animals and attempting to make pets of them should probably be avoided. There have been examples of other species crosses, including the Savannah cat, which is a cross between the African Serval and the domestic cat. Zebras have been crossed with horses and donkeys.
Other species of insects, birds, animals, and snakes have cross bred, producing a variety of interesting creatures. Some of these have had disastrous consequences. One that comes readily to mind is the Killer bee, which was an intentional cross between African bees and European bees. This was done to produce a more prolific variety of bee and increased honey production. However, when these escaped into the wild, a very aggressive and protective bee was created which has become very invasive.
Wild birds, of course, have almost unlimited freedom of movement, and can produce crosses with domesticated fowl. Crosses between wild and domestic ducks and geese have occurred.
A possible example of a cross between a wild Canadian goose and a domestic goose appeared in Frederick County a while back… This bird was traveling with several other Canadian geese and was possibly mated to one, since Canadian geese mate for life. The goose was very obvious and quite different from its Canadian goose companions.
Article by Claude Eans, FCFCDB
Nature Note for 3/24/19