Image: Counterfeit coyotes
Leslie Adkins  /  AP
A hand-made coyote decoy stands among a gaggle of geese at Forsythe Park in Hammond, Ind., Monday Aug. 11, 2008. A number of the decoys have been used in the area, hoping to keep the hungry geese away from grass and other plants.
updated 8/13/2008 8:46:53 PM ET 2008-08-14T00:46:53

Phony coyotes set up to discourage ducks and geese from gobbling up seeds and fresh shoots from wetlands plants didn't fool the fowl, but humans were another matter.

Hammond Port Authority Director Milan Kruszynski said his office fielded several calls from passing motorists who mistook the two-dimensional cutouts on islands in Wolf Lake for dogs.

"We've been getting calls from neighbors and people driving by, 'There's a dog trapped on the island!'" Kruszynski said.

Kruszynski said he has also been contacted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and a city official who was taken out by boat to inspect the decoys. He didn't identify the official.

The decoys were placed on the islands beginning about two years ago by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor to help scare off ducks and geese that otherwise might harm wetlands plantings. The geese generally uncover the ruse within a few weeks, the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported Tuesday in a story on its Web site.

"The geese are very wary of them, then eventually they figure it out," said Jon Dittmar, a spokesman for contractor J.F. New. "They're very striking when you first come upon them. I could see how it would be for someone driving by at 70 miles per hour."

Meanwhile, the wetlands plants on the islands have reached the point where they can thrive without the decoys' protection, so the coyotes soon will be removed, Dittmar said.

"They don't seem to be doing any good anymore and it appears they are upsetting some people," he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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