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MARC BEKOFF AND ROBERT W. ICKES 15 Behavioral Interactions and Conflict Among Domestic Dogs, Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs, and People in Boulder, Colorado INTRODUCTION World-wide there is growing interest in how human and non-human animals (hereafter animals) can best share what is becoming a limited resource, namely space that can be used by all parties for a variety of activities (see Knight and Gutzwiller 1995 for review). In Boulder, Colorado (USA) and other locales, among the numerous issues regarding land use is the concern that free-running domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) cause disturbance to wildlife and habitat . Yet, there are few detailed studies on relationships between dogs and wildlife (Miller 1994, Knight and Gutzwiller 1995, Bekoff and Meaney 1997, and references therein). In Boulder, dogs and prairie dogs share areas that are used for recreational purposes by people and their companion dogs. Conflict abounds because some people argue that dogs should be allowed to run free regardless of their impact on prairie dogs, whereas others maintain that prairie dogs should be protected and that dogs should be restrained or be taken elsewhere if they are to run free. There are no formal studies of which we are aware that focus on the nature of interactions between dogs and black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus), specifically avoidance shown by prairie dogs in response to intrusions and harassment by dogs. Two previous studies showed that prairie dogs in rural and undisturbed areas were more sensitive to human and other disturbances than were prairie dogs in urban areas (Adams, Lengas, and Bekoff 1987, Farrar et al. 1998). Issues concerning the impact of dogs on habitat and wildlife, including prairie dogs, require more detailed attention. Dogs and prairie dogs interact frequently in various contexts, and there is a lot of interest in the management of prairie dog colonies in and around Boulder and also nationally because of the potential harm that dogs might bring to prairie dogs. Indeed, there is a lot of popular interest in prairie dogs (e.g. Dold 1998, Long 1998; Reading, Miller and Kellert 1999), and there is a serious move to have black-tailed prairie dogs listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act because only about 1% of their original number occupy about 1% of their historic Originally published in 1999 in Bekoff, M., and Ickes, R. W. 1999. Behavioral Interactions and Conflict Among Domestic Dogs, Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs, and People in Boulder, Colorado. Anthrozoös 12, 105–110. Reprinted with permission, International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ). range. Prairie dogs are also vital for the survival of numerous (perhaps as many as 200) species associated with prairie dog towns, including endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes; Miller, Reading, and Forrest 1996), and some believe they are a keystone species (Davitt et al. 1996; but see Stapp 1998). If listed, prairie dogs would be protected from being harmed by poisons , recreational hunters, bulldozer scoops, or unrelenting human sprawl. In this study we focused on interactions between free-running domestic dogs, black-tailed prairie dogs, and people at Dry Creek, an area designated by the city of Boulder as a Habitat Conservation Area in which attempts are made to maintain natural faunal and floral biodiversity and natural shifts in animal use and vegetation dominance. Observations were also made at a control area where there was little human and no dog use. Our general hypothesis was that prairie dogs who are less disturbed by humans will be more wary than prairie dogs who are greatly intruded on by humans. This hypothesis stemmed from earlier work in which it was shown that prairie dogs in rural and undisturbed areas were more sensitive to human and other disturbances than were prairie dogs in urban areas (Adams et al. 1987, Farrar et al. 1998). We also predicted that prairie dogs who are heavily disturbed, when compared to prairie dogs who are less disturbed, would show greater disruption of normal activity patterns than less disturbed prairie dogs. Thus, disturbed prairie dogs might be more stressed than undisturbed individuals, and they might rest, forage, or socially interact less than undisturbed animals. METHODS Data were collected by direct observation of dogs, prairie dogs, and people during September, October, and November 1998, at Dry Creek, a recreational area in East Boulder. The prairie dog colony extends over approximately 14 acres. Trail corridors fragment prairie dog habitat. Observations were conducted by 12 researchers for approximately 250 hours, and about 150 different dogs were observed: Observations were...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781592133499
Related ISBN
9781592133482
MARC Record
OCLC
614991568
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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