Photo: Jeremy Bronson/Flickr
If you have a cat or dog, you are currently living with a murderer. Both of our beloved pets are carnivores that have drastic impacts on the wildlife and ecology around them.Back in January house and feral cats were all over the news for killing just about everything — from birds to small mammals. One New Zealand Economist went so far as to call for the eradication of the much-beloved house pet to save the local ecosystem.
Cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion mammals (mostly mice, shrews, rabbits, squirrels and voles) each year, a recent study reported. But what about dogs?
Joelene Hughes and David W. Macdonald, both of Oxford University, took a close look at the literature about dogs and their interactions with wildlife. As it turns out, the world’s 700 million dogs damage wildlife and ecosystems as well, though no studies offered clear figures as to the extent.
They are killing animals and even infecting them in diseases. A few examples of the disaster that is free-roaming dogs, from LiveScience:
… in the late 1980s, researchers found that a single German shepherd on the loose in New Zealand’s Waitangi State Forest was responsible for killing up to 500 kiwis. The dog had a collar, but was unregistered, and its owner was not found.
In another example from 2006, 12 ownerless dogs were thought to be wiping out populations of the endangered Fijian ground frog on the tiny Viwa Island…
“Despite the increasing recognition of the potential problem dogs may create for wildlife, few solutions to conservation issues were offered by the literature reviewed, particularly to non-disease related problems,” Livescience quotes from the paper, published in the journal Biological Conservation. “Local people and authorities may be reluctant to undertake dog population management or control because of the close nature of dog-human relationships.”
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