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, 7 January 2013

Wildlife response to dogs

Miller, S.G., Knight, R.L. & Miller, C.K. 2001. Wildlife responses to pedestrians and dogs. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 29 (1): 124-132.

You can download here the homonimous report from 1996 

As participation in outdoor recreational activities escalates, land managers struggle to develop management policies that ensure coexistence of wildlife and recreation. However, this requires an understanding of how wildlife responds to various forms of recreational activities and the spatial context in which the activities occur. Therefore, we measured responses of 2 species of grassland songbirds, one species of forest songbird, and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) exposed to a pedestrian, a pedestrian accompanied by a dog on leash, and a dog alone (only for grassland birds), on and away from recreational trails. We assessed the "area of influence" for each treatment by determining the probability that an animal would flush or become alert (for mule deer only) given its perpendicular distance to a trail or a line of movement in areas without trails. When animals were disturbed, we measured flush distance (the distance between the disturbance and the animal when flushed), distance moved, and, for mule deer, alert distance (the distance between the disturbance and the deer when it became alert). For all species, area of influence, flush distance, distance moved, and alert distance (for mule deer) was greater when activities occurred off-trail versus on-trail. Generally, among on-trail and off-trail treatments in grasslands for vesper sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus) and western meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta), the smallest area of influence and shortest flush distance and distance moved resulted from the dog-alone treatment, and these responses were greater for the pedestrian-alone and dog-on-leash treatments. In forests, for American robins (Turdus migratorius), the area of influence, flush distance, and distance moved did not generally differ between the pedestrian-alone and dog-on-leash treatments. For mule deer, presence of a dog resulted in a greater area of influence, alert and flush distance, and distance moved than when a pedestrian was alone. Natural lands managers can implement spatial and behavioral restrictions in visitor management to reduce disturbance by recreational activities on wildlife. Restrictions on types of activities allowed in some areas such as prohibiting dogs or restricting use to trails will aid in minimizing disturbance. Additionally, managers can restrict the number and spatial arrangement of trails so that sensitive areas or habitats are avoided.

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