Stray dogs: a threat to wildlife?

Countries like India, Japan, Russia, China, Brazil and USA have an astonishingly high number of stray dogs. (10.2m, 12m, 15m, 27.4m, 35.7m and 75.5m respectively) Many people, do not like having stray dogs around them, and try to remove them. Earlier, governments used to cull dogs, but now it is banned in most parts of the world. Therefore, these people transfer these dogs to forests and other such wild areas.

This is not right for a number of reasons:

  • Dogs are highly territorial animals and are unable to fit into these forests as they often get into fights with other stray dogs in new areas which might lead to serious injury or even death.
  • Dogs, out of hunger, kill and consume wild animals. This is destruction of biodiversity and disruption of ecosystems, for even though stray dogs were wild animals long back, they have gotten adapted to humans and cannot go back to the wild.
  • Scientists now say that they have contributed to the extinction of more than a dozen wild animal and bird species
  • In an India online survey, people reported stray dogs attacking 80 wild species, out of which 31 are threatened species under the IUCN Red List.
  • Stray dogs transmit human-originating diseases to wildlife, which could lead to outbreaks among wildlife which may cause mass extinction of species
  • They interbreed with closely related species which again, disrupts the ecosystem, for then, the wild animals also become feral. This also makes wild species lose their pure genes
This video had become extremely popular on social media. Uploaded by Ganesh Rajput

How do we reduce this?

  • Mass neutering and vaccination of stray dogs ensures that populations are controlled, and they remain disease free. You yourself, could sponsor the vaccination of a stray dog or two
  • Adopting stray dogs leads to their complete domestication, and will prevent them from attacking wild animals for food.
  • Public feeding of dogs is not encouraged as it attracts birds, snakes, and other small animals too, which the dogs turn to for food.
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