Published: Jan 1983
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Feral dogs (Canis familiaris) were studied from August 1979 through December 1981 in interior Alaska. Study techniques included use of radio telemetry, tracking in snow, and direct observation. Data were obtained on feral dog life history, including home ranges, activity patterns, breeding activity, foraging behavior, and interactions with tame dogs, red foxes (Vulpes vulva), coyotes (C. latrans), and wolves (C. lupus). Study findings challenged the hypothesis that populations of feral dogs or of dog-coyote or dog-wolf hybrids will not survive in northern regions because they are generally less fit than native canids and have lowered survival of offspring. Adult feral dogs and their pups survived winter conditions and were commonly active when temperatures were between 29 and −30°C. On one occasion, pups and their mother foraged away from the den when temperatures were below −45°C. Interactions of feral dogs with man and damage to livestock and game animals were surveyed. Periodic attempts to reduce feral dog populations have been undertaken by local residents. The principal control measures they employed included shooting, trapping, snaring, and destruction of pups in dens. These control measures resulted in temporary local population suppression. Information determined from this study should be helpful in planning future control measures, if control is deemed appropriate.
feral dogs, vertebrate pest control, garbage dumps, canid behavior
Assistant unit leader, Alaska Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska