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

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ecology of stray dogs in the Republic of Karelia

Sedova, N. 2014. Ecology of stray dogs in the Republic of Karelia. 9th Baltic Theriological Conference. Book of Abstracts, p. 73. Daugavpils, 16 – 18 October, 2014

The study was carried out between 2002-2007 in three cities in Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Belomorsk and Kostamuksha. During this period 669 dogs were censused in Petrozavodsk, 162 dogs in Belomorsk and 82 dogs in Kostamuksha.
Depending on the nature of owner control and the degree of socialization we distinguished three types of stray dogs; these were «neglected pets», «homeless» and «feral». In Petrozavodsk there were 232 individuals of the first type, 669 of the second type and about 20 of the third type. In Kostamuksha and Belomorsk numbers of «neglected pets» were 148 and 40 individuals respectively. «homeless» dogs were 162 and 82 individuals respectively, and «feral» dogs were not found. In the research we have identified 135 morphotypes of dogs in Petrozavodsk, and of these the dominant type is so called «laykoid» of black color, medium height, short-haired, upstanding ears with a log-like form tail (wolf form). In Kostamuksha there were 48 morphotypes identified and 58 in Belomorsk. Comparing between these cities has explored the same morphotype of stray dogs – red colored «laykoid», medium height, short-haired, upstanding ears and log-like tail.
The spatial structure of the stray dogs’ population in Petrozavodsk is characterized by aggregated distribution. It is expressed as a formation of various groups with large unpopulated areas between. For the packs in the industrial territories, small home ranges size (0.02 - 0.1 km²) were typical, with a low degree of variability within this. In residential territories the home range sizes did not exceed the foresaid (0.02 - 0.1 km²). Grouped distribution is mostly typical in the industrial territories where 75% of all dogs were gregarious. For residential territories solitary individuals were mainly typical: in Petrozavodsk - 90%, in Kostamuksha - 100 %, and in Belomorsk - 100%. However, packs did sometimes occur.
All contact of stray dogs with other species can be reduced to direct contact and mediated interaction. By direct contact the dogs demonstrate active predatory behaviour, or research activity. Mediated interaction can be described as commensalism, for instance when dogs consume cats - the main predators of rats in towns, as well as improve access of rodents and birds to feed. Competitive relations of stray dogs with other animals have not been identified.
The average number of stray dogs in Petrozavodsk was about 36.8 ind/ km² (1300 individuals in total). Analysis of number dynamics (2003-2007) showed that annual differences are insignificant. Changes tended to be small, indicating numbers to be fairly stable. The average number of stray dogs in Kostamuksha is 1.22 ind/km², and in Belomorsk - 5.91 ind/ km².
Analysis of samples within 2003-2007 showed that in Petrozavodsk the overall sex ratio among adults is 1:1. In Belomorsk and Kostamuksha there is a predominance of males. One explanation behind this is that the number of stray dogs are replenished by negelected domestic dogs, which are dominated by males.
In general the stray dog population within the studied cities was characterised by low numbers. One can also note the dependence of dog number on the area and layout of the city. The high numbers of neglected dogs observed in the streets indicates a culture of low pet care.

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