Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Monday, 14 October 2013

Domestic dogs in Wildlife habitats

It is difficult to segregate human demographic trends from trends in rural development and outdoor recreational participation in settings like the West where they appear to be interrelated. One extension of human recreation in wildlife habitats is the effect of disturbance, harassment, displacement, or direct mortality of wildlife attributable to domestic dogs that accompany recreationists. At some level, domestic dogs still maintain instincts to hunt and/or chase. Given the appropriate stimulus, those instincts can be triggered in many different settings. Even if the chase instinct is not triggered, dog presence in and of itself has been shown to disrupt many wildlife species. Authors of many wildlife disturbance studies concluded that dogs with people, dogs on-leash, or loose dogs provoked the most pronounced disturbance reactions from their study animals. During winter, concerns are primarily related to human activity on ungulate winter ranges. Dogs extend the zone of human influence when off-leash. Many ungulate species demonstrated more pronounced reactions to unanticipated disturbances, as a dog off-leash would be until within very close range. In addition, dogs can force movement by ungulates (avoidance or evasion during pursuit), which is in direct conflict with overwinter survival strategies which promote energy conservation. During summer, concerns are primarily related to the birth and rearing of young for all wildlife species. Dogs are noted predators for various wildlife species in all seasons. Domestic dogs can potentially introduce diseases (distemper, parvovirus, and rabies) and transport parasites into wildlife habitats. While dog impacts to wildlife likely occur at the individual scale, the results may still have important implications for wildlife populations. For most wildlife species, if a “red flag” is raised by pedestrian-based recreational disturbance, there could also be problems associated with the presence of domestic dogs. Managers may consider the following when evaluating recreational impacts of dogs in wildlife habitats: species biology, reproductive potential, abundance, density, distribution, degree of habitat specificity or reliance on certain habitat components, and predisposition and sensitivity to disturbance by other agents. This information is intended to increase awareness among natural resource professionals and the public about the potential implications of uncontrolled domestic dogs in wildlife habitats and to encourage responsible outdoor recreation ethics.

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