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

Thursday 28 November 2013

Dog free spay/neuter program in a Hispanic Colonia

Poss, J. E., & Bader, J. O. (2008). Results of a free spay/neuter program in a Hispanic Colonia on the Texas-Mexico border. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 11(4), 346-351.

The purpose of this study, conducted in a small, impoverished Hispanic community on the Texas-Mexico border, was to evaluate the level of participation in a bilingual spay/neuter program offered free of charge to residents with companion animals. Prior to the sterilization project, approximately 11% of dogs and about 27% of cats with guardians underwent surgical sterilization. Over an 8-month period, the spay/neuter program sterilized about 47% of dogs and 38% of cats who had guardians in the community. In spite of residents' early reluctance to neuter their dogs, the project sterilized nearly equal numbers of male and female dogs (200 male; 201 female).

Sunday 24 November 2013

Citizen attitude toward stray cats in Japan

Uetake, K., Yamada, S., Yano, M., & Tanaka, T. (2013). A Survey of Attitudes of Local Citizens of a Residential Area Toward Urban Stray Cats in Japan. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, (ahead-of-print), 1-8.

This study surveyed the attitudes of local residents living in an urban area in Japan toward stray cats. An anonymous questionnaire asked local residents (359 houses) about their attitudes toward stray cats. Responses were received from126 houses (35%). Answers about nuisance, respondents' actions, and actions to be taken with regard to stray cats did not differ by place or type of residence of respondents. More than one third (36.7 ± 16.6%) of the respondents answered that the “bad smell of the feces and urine” was a nuisance. Respondents who lived in detached houses tended to like cats compared with those who lived in condominiums. Respondents who liked cats took care of cats more frequently, whereas those who disliked cats chased cats away and prevented their intrusion into their houses and land. However, it is noteworthy that one third or more (minimum value: 37.8%) of respondents of all kinds answered that neutering is one effective way to suppress the population of stray cats.

Friday 22 November 2013

Impact of introduced predators, including dogs and cats, on island reptiles

Case, T. J., & Bolger, D. T. (1991). The role of introduced species in shaping the distribution and abundance of island reptiles. Evolutionary Ecology, 5(3), 272-290.

Species interactions, as revealed by historical introductions of predators and competitors, affect population densities and sometimes result in extinctions of island reptiles. Mongoose introductions to Pacific islands have diminished the abundance of diurnal lizards and in some cases have led to extinctions. Through these population level effects, biogeographic patterns are produced, such as the reciprocal co-occurrence pattern seen with the tuatara and its predator, the Polynesian rat, and with the tropical gecko competitors Hemidactylus frenatus and Lepidodactylus lugubris in urban habitats in the Pacific. Although competition has led to changes in abundance and has caused habitat displacement and reduced colonization success, extinctions of established reptile populations usually occur only as a result of predation.

These introductions, along with many manipulative experiments, demonstrate that present day competition and predation are potent forces shaping community structure and geographic distributions. The human introduction of species to islands can be viewed as an acceleration of the natural processes of range expansion and colonization. The immediate biotic consequences of these natural processes should be of the same intensity as those of the human introductions. Coevolution may subsequently act to ameliorate these interactions and reduce the dynamical response of one species to the other. The role played by coevolution in mediating interactions between competitors and predator and prey is highlighted by the susceptibility of predator-naive endemic species to introduced predators and the invalidity of species-poor communities.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The effect of design, and dogs, on bird species on urban parks

Paker, Y., Yom-Tov, Y., Alon-Mozes, T., & Barnea, A. (2013). The effect of plant richness and urban garden structure on bird species richness, diversity and community structure. Landscape and Urban Planning.

Urban green areas improve the standard of living in cities and affect people's attitude to nature and conservation. Zoological knowledge may provide data that will help designers to enhance bird diversity in gardens. We studied the effect of plant species richness and structure on bird species richness, diversity and community structure in 25 public gardens in Tel-Aviv city and, neighboring suburbs, Israel. A total of 65 bird species were observed, of which nine were urban, exploiters or alien species. These latter species composed 54% of all individuals seen. Additional 13 bird species, mostly migrants, were observed in gardens further from the observation fixed radius. We found that shrubs species richness positively affected bird species diversity. Most bird species were found where trees and shrubs species richness was high, and trees and lawn cover were medium or low. High trees or high lawn cover attracted only a few bird species, mostly aliens and urban exploiters. Native birds preferred to forage on native trees and alien birds preferred to feed on alien trees. Bird species diversity was higher during spring and fall because of the presence of migrating bird species. Dogs and people had a negative effect on bird presence. Accordingly, we recommend that when planning new gardens, designers will avoid large lawns, prefer diverse and dense shrubberies, native trees, and will create some areas that will not be accessible to dogs and people. Finally, we emphasize the importance of multidisciplinary studies conducted in collaboration between landscape designers and zoologists.

Dog disease threats for wild canid conservation in SE Brazil

de Almeida Curi, N. H., Araújo, A. S., Campos, F. S., Lobato, Z. I. P., Gennari, S. M., Marvulo, M. F. V., Ramos Silva, J.C. & Talamoni, S. A. (2010). Wild canids, domestic dogs and their pathogens in Southeast Brazil: disease threats for canid conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(12), 3513-3524.

Wild canids are under many pressures, including habitat loss, fragmentation and disease. The current lack of information on the status of wildlife health may hamper conservation efforts in Brazil. In this paper, we examined the prevalence of canine pathogens in 21 free-ranging wild canids, comprising 12 Cerdocyon thous (crab-eating fox), 7 Chrysocyon brachyurus (maned wolf), 2 Lycalopex vetulus (hoary fox), and 70 non-vaccinated domestic dogs from the Serra do Cipó National Park area, Southeast Brazil. For wild canids, seroprevalence of antibodies to canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus, canine coronavirus and Toxoplasma gondii was 100 (21/21), 33 (7/21), 5 (1/19) and 68 (13/19) percent, respectively. Antibodies against canine distemper virus, Neospora caninum or Babesia spp. were not found. We tested domestic dogs for antibodies to canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus and Babesia spp., and seroprevalences were 59 (41/70), 66 (46/70), and 42 (40/70) percent, respectively, with significantly higher prevalence in domestic dogs for CDV (P < 0.001) and Babesia spp. (P = 0.002), and in wild canids for CPV (P < 0.001). We report for the first time evidence of exposure to canine coronavirus in wild hoary foxes, and Platynossomun sp. infection in wild maned wolves. Maned wolves are more exposed to helminths than crab-eating foxes, with a higher prevalence of Trichuridae and Ancylostomidae in the area. The most common ectoparasites were Amblyomma cajennense, A. tigrinum, and Pulex irritans. Such data is useful information on infectious diseases of Brazilian wild canids, revealing pathogens as a threat to wild canids in the area. Control measures are discussed.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Companion animal management programs

Rowan, A. N., & Williams, J. (1987). The success of companion animal management programs: A review. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1(2), 110-122.

In the early 1970s, a surge of interest in and attention to pet overpopulation led to a revamping of animal control programs around the country and to the promotion of an approach known as LES (legislation, education, sterilization). Concern about pet overpopulation and the killing of healthy animals in shelters continues to be high, but little is known about the effectiveness of LES over the past few years. The present paper reviews the available data and concludes that the pet overpopulation problem has improved in the last ten to fifteen years with only 10% of the national dog and cat population being euthanized in shelters today as compared to 20% in 1973. The data are insufficient to determine which of legislation, education, or enforcement has been the most important factor. Questions are, however, raised about the effectiveness of a sterilization program in the absence of good animal control.

Monday 18 November 2013

Dogs predating on green turtle nests

Fowler, L. E. (1979). Hatching success and nest predation in the green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, at Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Ecology, 60 (5) 946-955.

Green turtle hatching success and nest predation were investigated at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, during July-November 1977. Forty-two percent of 350 study area nests and 57% of 237 beach survey nests produced emerging young; 38% and 24%, respectively, were destroyed by dogs, coatis, and vultures. The mean emergence percentage for the successful study area nests was 83%. About 13% of all eggs deposited did not hatch. A mean incubation period of 62 d and a mean clutch size of 104 eggs were recorded. Emergence success was not influenced by other recorded parameters (nest position on beach, rainfall, turtle's tag year, time of season, incubation period, and clutch size). Incubation period was related to nest position and clutch size. Dogs, coatis, and black and turkey vultures were the chief predators at Tortuguero; dogs did the most damage. Dogs and coatis found nests at all stages of development, but destroyed more nests containing hatchlings than nests containing unhatched eggs. Predation was related to nest position, but not to nest density. Nests were destroyed in equal proportion on the entire 35.4 km of beach. Predator activity was not consistent throughout the season; proportionally more nests were destroyed near the end of the nesting season than during the beginning.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Secondary poisoning of feral cats in NZ

Three papers analyse different effect of secondary poisoning on feral cats.

Alterio, N. (1996). Secondary poisoning of stoats (Mustela erminea), feral ferrets (Mustela furo), and feral house cats (Felis catus) by the anticoagulant poison, brodifacoum. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 23(4), 331-338.

A poisoning operation using Talon 20P™, active ingredient brodifacoum, targeting rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in coastal grasslands on the Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, also killed stoats (Mustela erminea), ferrets (Mustela furo), cats (Felis catus), and mice (Mus musculus) and probably possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus), rats (Rattus rattus), hares (Lepus europaeus occidentalis), and chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs). A new immigrant ferret also died 41 days after poisoning. If repeated in other habitats such as tussock grasslands and forests this method could greatly assist in restoration of mainland ecosystems and mitigation of bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) by controlling a variety of pests/ Tb carriers in one operation. The removal of small mammalian predators following poisoning operations could decrease immediate predation pressure on native wildlife. However, the efficacy of this multi‐species pest control method and unwanted side‐effects must be researched before its routine use. This research also demonstrates the potential threat of second‐generation anticoagulantpoisons such as brodifacoum to small mammalian carnivores with high conservation value in their native countries.

Heyward, R. P., & Norbury, G. L. (1999). Secondary poisoning of ferrets and cats after 1080 rabbit poisoning. Wildlife Research26(1), 75-80.

The incidence of secondary poisoning was determined by using radio-telemetry to assess the survival of 68 ferrets and 21 cats on two treatment sites and one control site in the dry tussock grasslands of New Zealand. The treatment sites were aerially poisoned with 1080-coated carrot baits (0.02% wt/wt) to control rabbits. The control site was not poisoned. Ferrets and cats were monitored at two-weekly intervals for at least 1 month before, and 2 months after the poison operations. Muscle samples from ferrets and cats that died within 50 days of poisoning on the treatment sites were assayed for 1080. In all, 7–11% (n = 28) of ferrets on one site and 8–15% (n = 26) of ferrets at the other site apparently died of secondary 1080 poisoning. Natural mortality rates of ferrets were 46–81% per annum. While we have evidence that secondary poisoning of cats does occur, we monitored insufficient numbers of cats to reliably estimate mortality rates.

Declines in predator numbers are commonly observed after rabbit poisoning. This study indicates that secondary poisoning contributes to these declines.

Gillies, C. A., & Pierce, R. J. (1999). Secondary poisoning of mammalian predators during possum and rodent control operations at Trounson Kauri Park, Northland, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology23(2), 183-192.

A poison baiting operation at Trounson Kauri Park in Northland, New Zealand using first 1080 and then brodifacoum targeted possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and rodents (Rattus rattusRattus norvegicus and Mus musculus). Predatory mammals were monitored by radio telemetry during the operation. All six feral cats (Felis catus), the single stoat (Mustela erminea) and the single ferret (Mustela furo) being monitored at the beginning of the operation died of secondary poisoning following the 1080 operation. A further two cats and four stoats were monitored through the ongoing poisoning campaign using brodifacoum in a continuous baiting regime. None of these radio tagged carnivores died of secondary poisoning. However, tissue analysis of additional carnivores trapped at Trounson found that cats, weasels (Mustela nivalis) and, to a lesser extent, stoats did contain brodifacoum residues. The duration that the radio-tagged predators were alive in and around Trounson Kauri Park suggests that the secondary poisoning effect was much reduced under the continuous baiting strategy compared to the initial 1080 poison operation.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Population dynamics and prey selection of native and introduced predators during a rodent outbreak in arid Australia

Pavey, C. R., Eldridge, S. R., & Heywood, M. (2008). Population dynamics and prey selection of native and introduced predators during a rodent outbreak in arid Australia. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(3), 674-683.
We examined population dynamics and trophic ecology of a predator–prey system in the Simpson Desert, Australia, consisting of an assemblage of small mammals (body mass < 100 g) and 4 species of predators: the endemic letter-winged kite (Elanus scriptus), a nocturnal-hunting rodent specialist; and 3 introduced mammalian predators (dingo [Canis lupus dingo], European red fox [Vulpes vulpes], and house cat [Felis catus]). This is the 1st comprehensive study of the responses of both the kite and introduced carnivores to a rodent outbreak. The 3.5-year study period included a population outbreak of about 24 months duration involving 3 native rodent species. Mammalian predators and kites exhibited similar population responses. Kites immigrated into the area within 6 months of the outbreak commencing, and remained while rodent abundance was high; however, all birds left the area after rodent populations crashed within a 6-week period. Dingoes and foxes were more abundant than cats and both species increased during the outbreak. All carnivores were resident. The letter-winged kite fed almost entirely on rodents. Rodents were the main prey of the 3 mammalian predators during the outbreak; however, all species had intermediate niche breadths. Dietary overlap between the kite and each carnivore was high during the rodent outbreak. During a nonoutbreak period, predation on rodents by the red fox remained high, whereas that by the dingo declined. We estimated the number of average-sized rodents (body mass 32.65 g) eaten daily by a nonreproducing individual to range from 1 (letter-winged kite) to 6 (red fox). We also estimated that the 3 mammalian predators (combined) captured 11 times as many rodents per day as letter-winged kites. There is considerable potential for food-based competition between the kite and introduced mammalian predators, particularly the red fox and house cat, in arid Australia.

Population dynamics and diet of feral cats and foxes in South Australia

Read, J., & Bowen, Z. (2001). Population dynamics, diet and aspects of the biology of feral cats and foxes in arid South Australia. Wildlife Research, 28(2), 195-203.

Average cat and fox densities at Roxby Downs, in northern South Australia, of 0.8 and 0.6 km-2  respectively, determined through spotlight counts over a 10-year period, probably considerably underestimate true densities. Peak rabbit populations coincided with high fox numbers, which probably suppressed cat densities. Cat abundance peaked when fox numbers were low but rabbit numbers were relatively high.

When abundant, rabbits were the principal prey of both cats and foxes. Declines in rabbits numbers coincided with dramatic declines in fox numbers. By contrast, declines in cat populations were less marked, presumably because they could more effectively switch to hunting a wide range of native vertebrates. Sand-dwelling lizards, house mice and common small passerines were the most abundant non-rabbit, vertebrate prey taken by cats. We estimate that annual cat predation accounted for approximately 700 reptiles, 150 birds and 50 native mammals per square kilometre, whereas foxes consumed on average 290 reptiles per square kilometre and few native mammals and birds in the Roxby Downs region each year.

Male cats and foxes were heavier than females. Feral cats typically weighed less than 4.0 kg, and cats weighing less than 2.5 kg typically preyed on more native vertebrates than did larger cats. Male and female cats were both typically tabby coloured, but a higher proportion of males were ginger in colour. Peak cat breeding coincided with rabbit and bird breeding and increased reptile activity during spring.

Fragmentation and disturbance effect on the impact of feral predators in Australia

May, S. A., & Norton, T. W. (1996). Influence of fragmentation and disturbance on the potential impact of feral predators on native fauna in Australian forest ecosystems. Wildlife Research, 23(4), 387-400.

The current knowledge is reviewed of the diet and predator–prey relationships of the feral cat (Felis catus), fox (Vulpes vulpes) and dingo (Canis familiaris dingo) (including wild dogs). The effect of forest fragmentation by roads on the use of native forest ecosystems by these species and the significance of this for native fauna is considered. The cat, fox and dingo are significant predators in Australia that interact with native fauna in various ways, including predation, competition for resources, and transmission of disease. On the basis of current knowledge, it is clear that the nature and impact of predation by the cat, fox and dingo on native fauna are primarily determined by prey availability, although there are exceptions to this rule. Generally, dingoes prey upon large to medium-sized prey species (e.g. wallabies, common wombats, and possums), foxes prey upon medium-sized to small prey (e.g. possums and rats) and consume a significant component of scavenged material and vegetation, while cats also prey upon medium-sized to small prey, but may have a greater proportion of reptiles and birds in their diet. The cat is generally considered to be an opportunistic predator and to have contributed to the demise of a number of mammals. The fox is considered more of a threat to small native mammals and it has been asserted that all species of mammals that fall within the critical weight range (CWR) of 120–5000 g are at risk of local extinction when the fox is present. The severity of the impact of the dingo upon the native fauna is considered to be minimal, at least in comparison with the impact that the cat and fox can have on populations. The dingo is not considered a threat to CWR mammals in undisturbed environments. The fox, feral cat and dingo are all considered to have the ability to selectivity prey upon species and, to some extent, individual sexes and age-classes of a number of larger prey species.

Although many of Australia's forested areas are relatively heavily fragmented by roads, there are no published studies specifically investigating the use of roads by feral predators. Information on the distribution and abundance of foxes, cats and dingoes in these ecosystems, their ecology and their impact on native fauna is particularly limited. Further, the extent to which roads influence the distribution and abundance of these species and the consequences of these for native fauna are poorly known. One of the most important research needs is to establish the relative impact that exotic predators may have on native fauna under varying degrees of road construction within native forests. For example, are areas with and without roads in forests used differently by exotic predators and what is the significance of this in terms of the potential impact on fauna? The extent to which feral predators forage away from roads needs further investigation, as does the rates of predation within edges, because this may have several consequences for the design, location and size of retained strips and wildlife corridors as well as restoration programmes. Further observations on regional differences influencing predator–prey interactions are required, as is research on the potential impacts on native fauna resulting from prey selection in forests subjected to various degrees of fragmentation and modification.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Meaning and Place of Feral Cats in the Workplace

Thompson, C. 2012. The Contested Meaning and Place of Feral Cats in the Workplace. Journal for Critical Animal Studies,10 (4): 78-108.

This research is grounded in three years of fieldwork with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) groups on university campuses and participation in a consortium of feral cat managers located in a large metropolitan area in the United States. TNR groups provide care and humane management of feral cats with the goals of reducing the overall number of stray and unhealthy cats in the wild and allowing healthy and non-reproductive cats to resume their territorial colonization of campus spaces. The analysis communicates the experiences and perspectives of feral cat caretakers as they struggle to preserve and create space for cats on their university and college campuses. Narratives and communications from and between feral cat caretakers illuminate how they resist existing definitions and arrangements of power and endeavor individually and collectively to manage their identities and activities within the workplace. The analysis shows that by extending the locus of care of non-human animals into the workplace setting feral caretaker actions break with normal practice by bringing non-human animals into the moral landscape of the campus and treating campus workplaces as ecologically integrated urban environments where feral cats and other animals are legitimate and appropriate coresidents. Their actions are seen as transgressing the conventional uses of place and space and results in stigmatization from three sources: the perceived misuse of the physical space at work, being out of order in ideological or normative space, and guilt by association or what Goffman (1964) calls tribal stigmatization.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Contact with domestic dogs increases pathogen exposure in African wild dogs

Woodroffe, R., Prager, K. C., Munson, L., Conrad, P. A., Dubovi, E. J., & Mazet, J. A.(2012). Contact with domestic dogs increases pathogen exposure in endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). PloS one, 7(1), e30099.


Infectious diseases have contributed to the decline and local extinction of several wildlife species, including African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). Mitigating such disease threats is challenging, partly because uncertainty about disease dynamics makes it difficult to identify the best management approaches. Serious impacts on susceptible populations most frequently occur when generalist pathogens are maintained within populations of abundant (often domestic) “reservoir” hosts, and spill over into less abundant host species. If this is the case, disease control directed at the reservoir host might be most appropriate. However, pathogen transmission within threatened host populations may also be important, and may not be controllable by managing another host species.

Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated interspecific and intraspecific transmission routes, by comparing African wild dogs' exposure to six canine pathogens with behavioural measures of their opportunities for contact with domestic dogs and with other wild dogs. Domestic dog contact was associated with exposure to canine parvovirus, Ehrlichia canis, Neospora caninum and perhaps rabies virus, but not with exposure to canine distemper virus or canine coronavirus. Contact with other wild dogs appeared not to increase the risk of exposure to any of the pathogens.
These findings, combined with other data, suggest that management directed at domestic dogs might help to protect wild dog populations from rabies virus, but not from canine distemper virus. However, further analyses are needed to determine the management approaches – including no intervention – which are most appropriate for each pathogen.

Cats prefer killing than eating

Adamec, R. E. (1976). The interaction of hunger and preying in the domestic cat (Felis catus): An adaptive hierarchy?. Behavioral Biology, 18(2), 263-272.

After being deprived of food for 48 hr six cats' food preferences for six types of food were determined. The food types were commercial beef, fish, and chicken cat foods, salmon, and freshly killed hooded rats, either warm or cooled. Food types were presented in pairs and preference was determined as the food types eaten most in a 1-hr period. After being deprived, the cats were then presented a choice between these foods in ascending order of preferences and a live hooded rat, on separate days. Cats were allowed to eat their preferred food for 45 sec prior to introducing the rat. In all cases cats stopped eating, traveled 4 ft, and leaped off a shelf to attack and kill the rat. They then brought the rat back to the food dish and resumed eating. In most cases the cats preferred the food they were eating to the rat prey. In only one case, when the most preferred food was being eaten, did the cat not attack. Quantitative measures of attack latency, biting, and latency to kill revealed a uniform attack pattern in all food-choice situations which did not differ from attacks seen when the cats were presented with a rat only. These data suggest that eating is not a terminal “consummatory” component of preying as a food-getting response. Hunger may be seen as a potentiator of a predatory tendency which takes precedence over food consumption. In view of the relative difficulty of feline prey capture in the wild for maintaining adequate food supply, the precedence of preying over eating may have the functional value of increasing food input by multiple kills if the opportunity arises.

Monday 11 November 2013

Wild predators enhance potential disease transmission to Ethiopian wolf

Atickem, A., Williams, S., Bekele, A., & Thirgood, S. (2010). Livestock predation in the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia. African Journal of Ecology, 48(4), 1076-1082.

In the Web Valley of the Bale Mountains National Park, the pastoral people suffer from livestock predation by wild carnivores. A total of 704 livestock were reported to be killed by wild carnivores over a 3-year period, causing a loss of potential revenue of 12 USD per year per household. Reported annual predation rates equated to 1.4% of the livestock population of the study area. Spotted hyaenas were responsible for most livestock predation (57%), followed by leopards (18%), common jackals (16%) and servals (9%). Hyaenas killed all livestock types (horses, donkeys, mules, cattle, goats and sheep) whilst leopards, common jackals and servals killed mostly goats and sheep. A survey of 362 households revealed that the pastoral people keep dogs to protect livestock from carnivores. During 250 nights of observation in the ten settlements, pastoralists were alerted to the presence of hyaenas on 80 occasions by the barking of their dogs. Such tradition of keeping dogs presents a threat to the persistence of the endangered Ethiopian wolf through diseases transmission. Given the frequency of carnivore attacks on livestock, it is desirable to develop alternative livestock protection methods that both minimize livestock losses and reduce the risk of disease transmission to Ethiopian wolves.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Potential threats of domestic dogs to wild animals in fragmented Atlantic forest

Martinez, E.; C. Cesário; I. de Oliveira e Silva; V. Boere. 2013. Domestic dogs in rural area of fragmented Atlantic Forest: potential threats to wild animals. Ciencia Rural, 43 (11)

Domestic dogs' skills such as hunting and herding shifted as man migrated from rural areas to developing urban centers and led to a change in human-dog relationship and in the purpose of these animals in the properties. The countryside of Viçosa is characterized by small coffee farms surrounded by borders with fragments from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The close proximity of these environments favors the encounter between domestic and wild animals which may lead to dog attacks to wild animals and, consequently, disease transmission. The aim of this study was to understand the role of dogs in the rural environment and assess the possible risks they offer to native fauna. The data were obtained from structured questionnaires answered by dogs' owners from rural Viçosa. Results regarding the socioeconomic status of the owners revealed that the majority belonged to either the middle class or low educational level categories. In addition, it was observed that there is a preference for male dogs due to its guard activity and that most dogs live unconstrained. Even though most dogs are provided with good food management, 58% of them prey on wildlife. However, more than half of the dogs do not consume their prey which can be explained by the inherited ability of artificial selection but 36.5% of them have scavenger diet. Most of the dogs were immunized against rabies, whereas, only 28.8% were immunized against infectious diseases such as leptospirosis, distemper and parvovirus. In conclusion, the management of dogs by rural owners, mainly unrestrained living, and allied to inadequate vaccination coverage suggest that dogs are predators of Viçosa's rural wildlife and potential disseminators of disease.

Field assessment of Curiosity® bait to manage feral cats

Johnston, M., O’Donoghue, M., Holdsworth, M., Robinson, S., Herrod, A., Eklom, K., Gigliotti, F. Bould, L. & Little, N. (2013). Field assessment of the Curiosity® bait for managing feral cats in the Pilbara. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series, (245).

Management of feral cat populations over large areas in Australia is currently limited by lack of a cost-effective control techniques. Existing techniques, including trapping, shooting and fencing are subject to limitations associated with significant input cost when used in broad areas. The distribution of poison baits can provide a lower cost alternative but must necessarily address the hazard that the baits may present to non-target species as baits intended for feral cats must be surface-laid. A bait, known as Eradicat®, has been developed for application in areas where native wildlife have a high tolerance to the poison (sodium fluoroacetate) used in that product. This bait is not suitable for use in other areas, such as eastern Australia, where this tolerance does not exist due to potential for consumption of the bait by wildlife species. 
The Australian Government has funded the development of an alternative poison bait product that is a based on Eradicat. This bait, known as Curiosity®, exploits differences in feeding behaviour between feral cats and non-target species by presenting the toxicant, para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP), in an encapsulated pellet. 
Curiosity baits were aerially distributed over a 268 km2  area within Karijini National Park, Western Australia in August 2012. This trial was part of a series of field trials conducted across Australia to assess the efficacy of this bait product and will contribute to the data submitted for product registration purposes. 
Monitoring of the bait efficacy program was undertaken by assessing site occupancy of feral cats prior to and following baiting using automated cameras. Additionally, the survival of eight cats that had been trapped and fitted with a GPS datalogger / VHF telemetry collar prior to baiting was monitored. The study included replicated counts of birds prior to and following to determine whether the Curiosity® baits led to a decrease in populations of non-target species. Impacts on reptile populations were expected to be mitigated given that the application of baits was timed for winter when these species were minimally active. 
An analysis of site occupancy data showed that there was no significant reduction in the feral cat population after baiting. None of the collared cats died as a result of bait consumption, despite numerous opportunities to encounter the bait as indicated by the GPS datalogged locations. 
Corvids and dingoes were photographed removing and consuming baits from a limited number of sites. However, as these individuals were not ‘marked’ or otherwise identifiable, it was not possible to monitor their fate throughout the study. Counts of non-target bird species did not show any broad population decline, suggesting that presence of baits did not lead to loss of population viability. 
Several problems encountered during the study affected the results: 
• The visual lures used with the automated camera surveys were not ideal. 
• The baiting aircraft was delayed, which meant that baits were applied in hotter weather. This affected increases in both the desiccation rate of baits and potentially also the abundance of available prey resource particularly with small reptiles. 
• Baits developed a putrescent odour and exhibited limited ‘sweating’ (i.e. exudation of the chicken fat component) which reduced bait attractiveness. 
• Insufficient cats were fitted with collars to make confident statements about changes in the feral cat population. 
Ongoing development efforts are required to confirm that the Curiosity bait efficacy is an effective management tool for reducing feral cat populations in semi-arid Australia. 

Saturday 9 November 2013

Cats, the main predator of ground nesting birds in the Upper Waitaki Basin

We used video cameras over 5 years to quantify causes of mortality at 172 nests of three species of ground-nesting birds that nest on braided riverbeds of the Upper Waitaki Basin, South Island, New Zealand. The species were banded dotterels Charadrius bicinctus (n=114), black stilts Himantopus novaezelandiae (n=23), and black-fronted terns Sterna albostriata (n=35). Of 77 recorded lethal events (excluding four desertions caused by us), 66 involved deaths of only eggs, and 11 involved deaths of adults and/or chicks, and/or eggs. The main predators were cats Felis catus, hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus, and ferrets Mustela furo, which were responsible for 43, 20, and 18% of lethal events, respectively. Cats were the only predator species to take adult birds. We recorded only two avian predations: a harrier Circus approximans took a chick and a hatching egg from one nest, and an Australian magpie Gymnorhina tibicen ate chicks at one nest. Other causes of mortality were incubating adult birds, floods, and sheep Ovis aries. Each accounted for <4% of lethal events. Ninety percent of visits (151 of 168) by predators or potential predators happened between sunset and sunrise. We found no evidence that video cameras or infra-red lighting influenced predation rates during 2 years of testing for such effects.

Friday 8 November 2013

Community turtle conservation in Costa Rica

Govan, H. (1998). Community turtle conservation at Rio Oro on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Marine Turtle Newsletter, 80, 10-11.

In June 1996, ADECORO started community-based management of the beach which involved both the participation of community members in controlling movements of their animals, and the removal of feral dogs which was carried out in conjunction with local authorities.

Total Predated
% Predated
A marked reduction can be seen in predation levels subsequent to the commencement of this initiative. It is almost certain that the reduction of dog predation is the result of a combination of the activities of the beach patrols and general increasing awareness in the community. Increased public awareness is likely to have contributed to the decrease in the activities of human egg collectors. The number of nests collected by humans fell from 344(12%) in 1994, to 122 (4%) in 1996


Feral cat vaccination and TNR

Fischer, S.M., C.M. Quest, E. J. Dubovi, R. D. Davis, S.J. Tucker, J.A. Friary, P.C. Crawford, T. A. Ricke, & J.K. Levy. (2007) Response of feral cats to vaccination at the time of neutering. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 230 (1): 52-58

Objective—To determine whether administration of inactivated virus or modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines to feral cats at the time of neutering induces protective serum antiviral antibody titers.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—61 feral cats included in a trap-neuter-return program in Florida.

Procedures—Each cat received vaccines against feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), feline herpes virus (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), FeLV, and rabies virus (RV). Immediately on completion of surgery, vaccines that contained inactivated RV and FeLV antigens and either MLV or inactivated FPV, FHV, and FCV antigens were administered. Titers of antiviral antibodies (except those against FeLV) were assessed in serum samples obtained immediately prior to surgery and approximately 10 weeks later.

Results—Prior to vaccination, some of the cats had protective serum antibody titers against FPV (33%), FHV (21%), FCV (64%), and RV (3%). Following vaccination, the overall proportion of cats with protective serum antiviral antibody titers increased (FPV [90%], FHV [56%], FCV [93%], and RV [98%]). With the exception of the FHV vaccine, there were no differences in the proportions of cats protected with inactivated virus versus MLV vaccines.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that exposure to FPV, FHV, and FCV is common among feral cats and that a high proportion of cats are susceptible to RV infection. Feral cats appeared to have an excellent immune response following vaccination at the time of neutering. Incorporation of vaccination into trap-neuter-return programs is likely to protect the health of individual cats and possibly reduce the disease burden in the community.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Human attitude towards cat fecal deposition

Dabritz, H.A.,  E. R. Atwill, I.A. Gardner, M.A. Miller & P.A. Conrad. (2006) Outdoor fecal deposition by free-roaming cats and attitudes of cat owners and nonowners toward stray pets, wildlife, and water pollution. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 229 (1): 74-81

Objective—To estimate cat population size, management, and outside fecal deposition and evaluate attitudes of cat owners and nonowners to stray animal control, water pollution, and wildlife protection.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample Population—294 adult residents of Cayucos, Los Osos, and Morro Bay, Calif.

Procedures—Telephone survey.

Results—The region's cat population was estimated at 7,284 owned and 2,046 feral cats, and 38% of surveyed households owned a mean of 1.9 cats/household. Forty-four percent of cats defecated outside >75% of the time. Annual fecal deposition (wet weight) by owned cats in the 3 communities was estimated to be 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons). Cat owners were more likely to oppose cat licensing and impounding stray cats and support trap-neuter-return for stray cats and less likely to be concerned about water pollution, than were noncat owners.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Feral cats represented a sizeable proportion (22%) of the free roaming cats in this area and could be contributing 30.0 tonnes (29.5 tons) of feces to the environment per year. However, feral cats are not the principal source of fecal loading because owned cats defecating outdoors contribute an estimated 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons) or 72% of the annual outdoor fecal deposition.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Virus seroprevalence among cats in North America

Objective—To determine seroprevalence of FeLV and FIV infection among cats in North America and risk factors for seropositivity.

Design—Prospective cross-sectional survey.

Animals—18,038 cats tested at 345 veterinary clinics (n = 9,970) and 145 animal shelters (8,068) between August and November 2004.

Procedure—Cats were tested with a point-of-care ELISA for FeLV antigen and FIV antibody. A multivariable random effects logistic regression model was used to identify risk factors significantly associated with seropositivity while accounting for clinic-to-clinic (or shelter) variability.

Results—409 (2.3%) cats were seropositive for FeLV antigen, and 446 (2.5%) cats were seropositive for FIV antibody; 58 (0.3%) cats were seropositive for infection with both viruses. Multivariable analysis indicated that age, sex, health status, and cat lifestyle and source were significantly associated with risk of seropositivity, with adults more likely to be seropositive than juveniles (adjusted odds ratios [ORs], 2.5 and 2.05 for FeLV and FIV seropositivity, respectively), sexually intact adult males more likely to be seropositive than sexually intact adult females (adjusted ORs, 2.4 and 4.66), and outdoor cats that were sick at the time of testing more likely to be seropositive than healthy indoor cats (adjusted ORs, 8.89 and 11.3).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that certain characteristics, such as age, sex, health status, and lifestyle, are associated with risk of FeLV and FIV seropositivity among cats in North America. However, cats in all categories were found to be at risk for infection, and current guidelines to test all cats at the time of acquisition and again during illness should be followed.

Use of collars and microchips for cats

Lord, L.K, B. Griffin, M.R. Slater, J.K. Levy. (2010) Evaluation of collars and microchips for visual and permanent identification of pet cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 237 (4), 387-394

Objective—To determine the percentage of pet cats still wearing collars and having functional microchips 6 months after application.

Design—Randomized controlled clinical trial.

Animals—538 client-owned cats.

Procedures—Cats were randomly assigned to wear 1 of 3 types of collars: plastic buckle, breakaway plastic buckle safety, and elastic stretch safety. Each cat was fitted with the assigned collar, and a microchip was inserted SC between the scapulae. Owners completed questionnaires about their experiences and expectations of collars at enrollment and at the conclusion of the study.

Results—391 of the 538 (72.7%) cats successfully wore their collars for the entire 6-month study period. Owners' initial expectations of the cats' tolerance of the collar and the number of times the collar was reapplied on the cats' necks were the most important factors predicting success. Type of collar likely influenced how often collars needed to be reapplied. Eighteen (3.3%) cats caught a forelimb in their collar or caught their collar on an object or in their mouth. Of the 478 microchips that were scanned at the conclusion of the study, 477 (99.8%) were functional.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Most cats successfully wore their collars. Because even house cats can become lost, veterinarians should recommend that all cats wear identification collars since they are the most obvious means of identifying an owned pet. For some cats, collars may frequently come off and become lost; therefore, microchips are an important form of backup identification. Owners should select a collar that their cat will tolerate and should check it often to ensure a proper fit.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

TNR useless if unsustained

Gunther, I., H. Finkler & J. Terkel. (2011) Demographic differences between urban feeding groups of neutered and sexually intact free-roaming cats following a trap-neuter-return procedure. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 238 (9): 1134-1140

Objective—To examine demographic differences during a 1-year observational period between urban feeding groups of neutered and unneutered free-roaming cats following a trap-neuter-return procedure.

Design—Natural-setting trial.

Animals—Free-roaming adult cats (n = 184) and kittens (76) living in 4 feeding groups in an urban region of Israel.

Procedures—Cats in 2 feeding groups were subjected to a trap-neuter-return (TNR) procedure. Cats in 2 other feeding groups were untreated. Data were collected on a weekly basis before and during feeding time over a 1-year period. Following individual cat identification, presence of adults and kittens was recorded throughout the year. Rates of immigration, emigration, and kitten survival were compared between neutered and unneutered groups.

Results—The number of adult cats in the 2 neutered groups increased significantly during the study period because of higher immigration and lower emigration rates than in the unneutered groups, in which the number decreased. In the neutered groups, annual presence of neutered cats was significantly higher than that of sexually intact cats. Kitten survival in the neutered groups was significantly higher than in the unneutered groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Targeting the TNR method mainly at feeding groups in urban residential neighbourhoods may result in increased group size, as a consequence of 2 major changes in group dynamics: sexually intact cats immigrate into the neutered groups more readily and neutered cats reduce their emigration rates, possibly because of a reduction in reproductive and competitive pressures. To maintain a high proportion of neutered cats in such cat groups, persistent TNR campaigns are therefore necessary.

Wolf's bottleneck and dog gene introgression in Bulgaria

Moura, A. E., Tsingarska, E., Dąbrowski, M. J., Czarnomska, S. D., Jędrzejewska, B., & Pilot, M. (2013). Unregulated hunting and genetic recovery from a severe population decline: the cautionary case of Bulgarian wolves.Conservation Genetics, 1-13. DOI 10.1007/s10592-013-0547-y

European wolf (Canis lupus) populations have suffered extensive decline and range contraction due to anthropogenic culling. In Bulgaria, although wolves are still recovering from a severe demographic bottleneck in the 1970s, hunting is allowed with few constraints. A recent increase in hunting pressure has raised concerns regarding long-term viability. We thus carried out a comprehensive conservation genetic analysis using microsatellite and mtDNA markers. Our results showed high heterozygosity levels (0.654, SE 0.031) and weak genetic bottleneck signals, suggesting good recovery since the 1970s decline. However, we found high levels of inbreeding (F IS = 0.113, SE 0.019) and a N e/N ratio lower than expected for an undisturbed wolf population (0.11, 95 % CI 0.08–0.29). We also found evidence for hybridisation and introgression from feral dogs (C. familiaris) in 10 out of 92 wolves (9.8 %). Our results also suggest admixture between wolves and local populations of golden jackals (C. aureus), but less extensive as compared with the admixture with dogs. We detected local population structure that may be explained by fragmentation patterns during the 1970s decline and differences in local ecological characteristics, with more extensive sampling needed to assess further population substructure. We conclude that high levels of inbreeding and hybridisation with other canid species, which likely result from unregulated hunting, may compromise long-term viability of this population despite its current high genetic diversity. The existence of population subdivision warrants an assessment of whether separate management units are needed for different subpopulations. Our study highlights conservation threats for populations with growing numbers but subject to unregulated hunting

Monday 4 November 2013

Non surgical vs. surgical sterilization in feral cat populations

Budke, C. M., & Slater, M. R. (2009). Utilization of matrix population models to assess a 3-year single treatment nonsurgical contraception program versus surgical sterilization in feral cat populations. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 12(4), 277-292.

This study constructed matrix population models to explore feral cat population growth for a hypothetical population (a) in the absence of intervention; (b) with a traditional surgical sterilization-based trap, neuter, and return program; and (c) with a single treatment 3-year nonsurgical contraception program. Model outcomes indicated that cessation of population growth would require surgical sterilization for greater than 51% of adult and 51% of juvenile (<1 year) intact female cats annually, assuming an approximate 3-year mean life span. After the population stabilizes, this would equate to sterilizing approximately 14% of the total female population per year or having approximately 71% of the total female and 81% of the adult female population sterilized at all times. In the absence of juvenile sterilization, 91% of adult intact females would need to be sterilized annually to halt population growth. In comparison, with a 3-year nonsurgical contraception program, an annual contraception rate of 60% of female juvenile and adult intact cats would be required to halt population growth, assuming that treatedcats were retrapped at the same rate after 3 years.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Impact of neutering programs on animal population dynamics at animal shelters

White, S. C., Jefferson, E., & Levy, J. K. (2010). Impact of publicly sponsored neutering programs on animal population dynamics at animal shelters: The New Hampshire and Austin experiences. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 13(3), 191-212.

This study found that government-funded surgical sterilization of companion animals has been widely promoted as a means of decreasing shelter intake and euthanasia. However, little information is available about the true impact of these programs on community and shelter nonhuman animal population dynamics. This study estimated the impact of the Animal Population Control Program in New Hampshire by comparing shelter intake and euthanasia data before and after the onset of the neutering initiative. Regression analysis demonstrated a significant decrease in cat intake and euthanasia during the years after program onset, a trend that appears to begin prior to the program's initiation; however, there was no decrease in dog intake or euthanasia. This study also estimated the impact of the Austin-based EmanciPET FreeSpay/Neuter Program by comparing shelter intake and euthanasia data from the targetedprogram areas versus nonprogram areas within the city. Regression analysis demonstrated a significantly lower rate of increase for dog and cat intake and euthanasia in the program areas. Prospective studies should determine the effectiveness and affordability of different models for funding and delivering neutering services.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Effect of feral dogs and cats on native mammals of Isla de Cedros

Cortés-Calva, P., Gallo-Reynoso, J. P., Delgadillo-Rodríguez, J., Lorenzo, C., & Álvarez-Castañeda, S. T. (2013). The Effect of Feral Dogs and Other Alien Species on Native Mammals of Isla de Cedros, Mexico. Natural Areas Journal,33(4), 466-473.

We report the status of alien species on Isla de Cedros, Mexico, and analyze the information from different years that together with a collaborative effort between academic biologists, Mexican governmental agencies, and local individuals has resulted in major information about the alien species on this island. We also report species richness of distinct endemic mammal species and the presence of feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus), which is the principal problematic situation in this “Marine Priority Region.” The possible origin of feral dogs could be the migratory movement of stray dogs to find food in the inner part of the island, first moving to garbage dumps, reproducing in the area, and later hunting goats (Capra aegagrus hircus Linnaeus) in packs. The combination of the high density of stray dogs, urban and industrial food garbage dumps, and the large number of marine resources scattered along the seashore made ideal conditions for the establishment of feral dog packs that are affecting native species. The island does not have any natural mammal predator, but the presence of feral species, dogs and cats (Felis silvestris catus Schreber), could disturb the occurrence of endemic fauna as it has happened on other islands in the world.

Prevalence of pathogens in feral cats in Florida

Luria, B. J., Levy, J. K., Lappin, M. R., Breitschwerdt, E. B., Legendre, A. M., Hernandez, J. A., Gorman, S.P. & Lee, I. T. (2004). Prevalence of infectious diseases in feral cats in Northern Florida. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 6(5), 287-296.

Objectives of this study were to determine prevalence of infection in feral cats in Northern Florida with a select group of infectious organisms and to determine risk factors for infection. Blood samples or sera from 553 cats were tested with a panel of antibody, antigen or PCR assays. Male cats were at higher risk for FIV, Mycoplasma haemofelis, and M. haemominutum. Infection with either FeLV or FIV was associated with increased risk for coinfection with the other retrovirus, M. haemofelis, or M. haemominutum. Bartonella henselae had the highest prevalence and was the only organism that did not have any associated risk for coinfection with other organisms. Feral cats in this study had similar or lower prevalence rates of infections than those published for pet cats in the United States. Thus, feral cats assessed in this study appear to be of no greater risk to human beings or other cats than pet cats.

Friday 1 November 2013

Habitat sharing of wildcat, domestic cat and hybrids

Germain, E., Benhamou, S., & Poulle, M. L. (2008). Spatio‐temporal sharing between the European wildcat, the domestic cat and their hybrids. Journal of Zoology, 276(2), 195-203.

The European wildcat Felis silvestris silvestris, which can hybridize with the domestic cat Felis catus to produce fertile hybrids, is threatened by hybridization. To identify the behavioural processes that can affect interbreeding, we investigated the spatio-temporal sharing between wildcats, domestic cats and their hybrids (defined on their genotypes) in a rural area of north-eastern France where hybridization is frequent. Wildcats' and hybrids' home ranges were larger than those of domestic cats, and they did not vary according to body mass, season and reproductive period. The three types of cats had similar daily activity rhythms but the concordance between their space use patterns was low or null. Thus, a high spatio-temporal concordance is not a prerequisite for hybridization. Rare excursions made by the cats outside of their home ranges may be at the origin of interbreeding. Moreover, hybrids may play a key role in hybridization by behaving as wildcats and by sharing at least a part of their range with them as well as with domestic cats. Behavioural barriers between them and wildcats may not exist because of their similarity in morphology and spatial behaviour.

See more on domestic cat introgression in wildcat

Dog evolution as commensal

Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A., Arendt, M.-L., Maqbool, K., Webster, M.T., Perloski, Liberg, O., Arnemo, J.M., Hedhammar, Å & Lindblad-Toh, K. (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature, 495, 360–364.

The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication. Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication (6). Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.
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