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Study: Domesticated Dogs Impact Wildlife Populations

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March 13, 2013

Study: Domesticated Dogs Impact Wildlife Populations

By Chad Love

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the negative impact that free-roaming cats have on wildlife populations. So just to be fair, here's some food for thought: according to a recent study, free-roaming dogs aren't exactly saints, either.

From this story on livescience.com
"...a new study from researchers at the University of Oxford reminds that domestic dogs are also killers and disease-spreaders that can pose conservation problems when they're allowed to roam. It's difficult to generalize the ecological impact of the world's estimated 700 million domestic dogs since they are treated very differently across cultures — some kept in handbags, others chained outside or left to stray. In any case, the researchers say that free-roaming dogs (ones without an owner or otherwise left to run free) are thought to account for about 75 percent of the global dog population and their interactions with other animals can be problematic. Oxford researchers Joelene Hughes and David W. Macdonald reviewed 69 studies on canine-wildlife relations in rural areas. All but three of these articles found that dogs had a negative impact, mostly due to predation."

Well, no kidding. Does it really take an exhaustive review of 69 scientific studies to figure that out? Of course feral and free-roaming dogs will have a negative impact on wildlife. I still maintain that cats are a much, much larger problem than dogs; not only because there's an ingrained attitude much more prevalent among cat owners than dog owners that it's somehow OK to let your cats roam, but due to the fact that cats are much more efficient predators than dogs — they're more fecund and they more readily adapt to a feral lifestyle.

I guess the point is, don't let your pets roam, regardless of whether you're a cat person or a dog person. Which brings up an interesting question: If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, do you let your gundogs have free reign of your place? 

Comments (6)

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from Loxahatchee wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Any free roaming dog we catch on our PRIVATE hunting property is equivalent to a coyote as far as we're concerned. We shoot those "domestic coyotes" on sight.

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from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

It's a shame when people don't take care of or control their animals, whatever type they are.

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from ALJoe wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

We have a good size family farm. But we see farms around us being divided up and more and more people wanting to move to the "country". Problem is every one of these families think they need two or three dogs running around. When you go and tell the land owner that they need to put there dogs up because Lassie ran three deer by your stand you always get the same response. "It must have been someone else's dog, mine never leaves the front yard." Many times I've had to whip out the trail cam pics to prove them wrong. I'm all for dog ownership. I've had gundogs my whole life. But dang it man! Take care of your pets!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I choose to live in town and leave the country alone as much as possible. I would never park my own home out there to displace wildlife let alone let my dogs run loose. People who do that with both their homes and dogs really don't have a clue about how much long term (as in FOREVER) damage they're doing to mother nature. But most of them don't care either. They're just out there with their pack of free roaming dogs because it's the in thing to do. It's not a big problem in the area where I hunt geese here because the wolves clean out any free roaming dogs very quickly (see, the dang things do have some good use!). They're extremely efficient at killing suburbanite dogs. Had one eyeballing my dogs and/or decoy set two years ago. He was too far away to shoot and of course I can't be doing like that with my own dogs around ... not unless I have to.

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from voiceofreasoncny wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

In upstate NY there are actually groups that capture free roaming dogs and cats to spay/neuter them and then release them back into the environment. When you point out that it would be much less expensive to "euthanize" these feral disease spreaders, you get a lengthy discourse on how cruel that approach would be. When you question these people on the cruel effects their actions are having on wildlife populations, the stuttering starts.

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from Scout79 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I live in an area where if a dog is caught running deer, it gets shot. I saw one running a couple fork horns past my stand several years ago and the thought crossed my mind, but it made me sad I let him go by. Glad I didn't kill someone's pet, but it still makes me mad that people let their dogs run willy-nilly. Then, last year, I chased a beagle mix right up the the neighbors' house. I knocked on the door (sans shotgun) but no one answered. I knew they were in there...funny thing...the dog seemed to magically stay in it's yard for the rest of deer season after that.
In southeast Asia, India in particular, the decline in vultures from the use of diclofenac in cattle has contributed to a dramatic increase in the stray dog population. The end result is an increase in rabies infection in humans from rabid dog bites. Scary stuff.

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from Loxahatchee wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Any free roaming dog we catch on our PRIVATE hunting property is equivalent to a coyote as far as we're concerned. We shoot those "domestic coyotes" on sight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

It's a shame when people don't take care of or control their animals, whatever type they are.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

We have a good size family farm. But we see farms around us being divided up and more and more people wanting to move to the "country". Problem is every one of these families think they need two or three dogs running around. When you go and tell the land owner that they need to put there dogs up because Lassie ran three deer by your stand you always get the same response. "It must have been someone else's dog, mine never leaves the front yard." Many times I've had to whip out the trail cam pics to prove them wrong. I'm all for dog ownership. I've had gundogs my whole life. But dang it man! Take care of your pets!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from voiceofreasoncny wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

In upstate NY there are actually groups that capture free roaming dogs and cats to spay/neuter them and then release them back into the environment. When you point out that it would be much less expensive to "euthanize" these feral disease spreaders, you get a lengthy discourse on how cruel that approach would be. When you question these people on the cruel effects their actions are having on wildlife populations, the stuttering starts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scout79 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I live in an area where if a dog is caught running deer, it gets shot. I saw one running a couple fork horns past my stand several years ago and the thought crossed my mind, but it made me sad I let him go by. Glad I didn't kill someone's pet, but it still makes me mad that people let their dogs run willy-nilly. Then, last year, I chased a beagle mix right up the the neighbors' house. I knocked on the door (sans shotgun) but no one answered. I knew they were in there...funny thing...the dog seemed to magically stay in it's yard for the rest of deer season after that.
In southeast Asia, India in particular, the decline in vultures from the use of diclofenac in cattle has contributed to a dramatic increase in the stray dog population. The end result is an increase in rabies infection in humans from rabid dog bites. Scary stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I choose to live in town and leave the country alone as much as possible. I would never park my own home out there to displace wildlife let alone let my dogs run loose. People who do that with both their homes and dogs really don't have a clue about how much long term (as in FOREVER) damage they're doing to mother nature. But most of them don't care either. They're just out there with their pack of free roaming dogs because it's the in thing to do. It's not a big problem in the area where I hunt geese here because the wolves clean out any free roaming dogs very quickly (see, the dang things do have some good use!). They're extremely efficient at killing suburbanite dogs. Had one eyeballing my dogs and/or decoy set two years ago. He was too far away to shoot and of course I can't be doing like that with my own dogs around ... not unless I have to.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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