Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wildlife now dogged by man's best friend?

Wildlife now dogged by man

Man's best friend may be a formidable enemy to wildlife, a Utah State University biologist says in a newly published paper that tracks the harmful effects of loose dogs on other animals.

Based on a mix of existing research and their own case studies, Julie Young of Utah State and four other scientists conclude that feral and free-roaming dogs may be wreaking havoc on wildlife, especially imperiled species, by preying on or harassing them and by transmitting diseases.
"Dogs occur where humans occur, but we have tended to overlook their impact on wildlife mostly because we think of them as our companions," said Young, co-author of "Is Wildlife Going to the Dogs?" newly published in the journal BioScience.

Young cited examples from Idaho, where research showed the presence of dogs diminishing some deer populations, and in Colorado, where a study showed that wildlife like bobcats are shunning trails where people hike with pet dogs.

On the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona, packs of feral dogs are chasing livestock, decimating populations of small mammals such as rabbits and acting as a disease vector for rabies among people and other animals, she said.

Loose dogs also were the suspected culprits in a distemper outbreak linked to a catastrophic die-off of endangered black-footed ferrets in northwestern Wyoming in the 1980s.


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