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Five months after two students stole and killed a...

STORRS, Conn. -- Five months after two students stole and killed a rare 'coydog' -- a coyote-beagle hybrid used for genetics research at the University of Connecticut -- the research goes on.

The work of Alice Moon, a graduate student at UConn studying the behavior of the hybrids, suffered an irreparable loss in September when Julie, a rare third-generation coydog, was killed.

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But Ms. Moon has been breeding new litters of first- and second-generation coydogs for use in future experiments and expects that other graduate students will breed the fourth generation of coydog.

In her six years at UConn, she has tried to trace the persistence of both coyote and dog traits in successive generations of the crossbreeds. Without the fourth generation, her work will be incomplete when she graduates in 1985.

Ms. Moon has studied how coydogs can be made to switch from dog-like behavior -- growling and standing straight-backed when threatened by an enemy -- to coyote-like actions -- hissing, showing their teeth and arching their backs.

Ms. Moon expects to gain her doctorate in bio-behavioral sciences by the summer of 1985, not enough time to breed a replacement for Julie.

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Other graduate students will have to carry out her work and produce the fourth-generation coydog that was to complete her experiments.

'It's not easy to breed them,' she said. 'Coyotes are very picky about their mates and usually would not accept anything as comical as a beagle.'

Ms. Moon said she must select a coyote and a beagle with matching sexual cycles and then rear them together, so they grow accustomed to each other.

After being reared together, Ruocco, one of the coyotes, now loves his beagle mate, Frieda, and will not look at any female coyotes, she said.

'She's his girl,' she said, as Ruocco nuzzled Frieda.

Ms. Moon came to UConn because it was the only place in the world that had succeeded in breeding coydogs. Six years later, UConn's program remained unique.

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