Monkey Forest Tales: Feral dogs and cats and it’s impacts on our biodiversity

In today’s post, we will like to talk about the impacts of feral dogs and cats. For the last two years we had been thinking on ways to assess the effects of feral dogs and cats on our study area’s biodiversity. Our anecdotal observations and farm workers reports over the past 5 years seems to highlight an increase of feral dogs in the area, also supported by some data of camera traps. However feral cats seems to be more difficult to register, at least on the main study area of Zocay Project in San Martín town.
In Villavicencio, feral cats effects on biodiversity seems to be more evident in some areas, such as urban parks. However street dogs affecting biodiversity seems to be more difficult to assess.
Feral dogs and cats had been reported to have a huge impact on small vertebrates mortalities near and within urban areas. Additionally to their impact as hunters, they are also reservoirs of disease that can be transmitted to wild carnivorous present in these fragmented areas. At Zocay Project area it is particularly important due to the presence of ocelots and other carnivorous that can get some disease from domestic dogs and cats.
One of the strategies that seems to start giving some results to assess feral dogs impacts seems to be camera traps as we had detected at least 5 different individuals of domestic dogs roaming in the core area of our study area. Although not hunting activity had been detected yet. However in past year we had local reports of a group of 4 dogs hunting goats in one of the farms in which Zocay Project is working.
Although we still have questions about feral dogs and cats effects on our study area, identification and detection of feral dogs and cats is a starting point to assess those impacts. Some interviews and assessment of vaccination status of domestic dogs and cat in neighboring farms can give us additional information to evaluate their effects and guide us on which management action can we suggest to landowners.
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