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Hunting dogs are at biggest risk to get attacked by wolves near wolves’ territory boundaries

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Wolves’ attacks on hunting dogs are a major conflict between wolves and hunters in Northern Europe. The reasons affecting the risk of wolves’ (Canis lupus) attacks on hunting dogs are poorly known. We examined whether the number of wolves in territory, the territory size, and the space use of GPS-collared wolves affected the risk of fatal attacks during hunting season in Finland. We found that attacks were more frequent within the periphery than core of the territory. Based on locations of GPS-collared wolves, wolves spent 8% (range 2–12%, n = 17) of time within the border zone (11% of the territory area) of their territory. Forty-five percent of all attacks considered (n = 11) took place within this zone which was high proportion as compared to the distribution of wolf locations. This result might reflect wolves’ motivational status to eliminate potential competitors when they are moving near territory boundaries.

Document: Tikkunen-Kojola2019_Article_HuntingDogsAreAtBiggestRiskToG.pdf  PDF icon

Author(s): Mari Tikkunen & Ilpo Kojola

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