FREE-RANGING DOGS IN LITHUANIA HUNTING AREAS. DISTRIBUTION AND IMPACT ON HUNTING FAUNA
Keywords:dog, free-ranging, free-ranging dogs, feral, fauna, distribution
The dog is one of the most common predators in the world with a population of ~ 900 million and it continues to grow. Only 20% of the world population is considered as pets. In the natural environment of Lithuania there are irresponsibly cared, free-roaming or completely homeless individual dogs or groups of them. Data on the effects of these animals on wildlife or domestic animals are currently lacking, their behavioral characteristics, the lifespan of the groups and the area occupied are unknown. In this article, I will discuss only the population of free ranging dogs their distribution and contact with other fauna in different hunting area units of Lithuania. Information about free-roaming dogs was collected by telephone interviewing 491 people representing the hunting areas. A questionnaire of 9 open questions was used for the survey, about free-roaming dogs observed in the hunting areas during the last 5 years, their number and size, information, and visual material about contact with other fauna was requested. According to the survey data, more than half (59%) of the surveyed hunting areas has free-roaming dogs. They are usually medium in size (47%) and form groups of two dogs (41%). Free-roaming dogs interact with animals in the environment, most commonly (63%) with roe deer (Capreolus capreolus).