The use of livestock guardian dogs (Canis lupus familiaris; LGDs) to deter predators from preying on domestic sheep (Ovis aries) and goat (Capra spp.) herds continues to increase across the United States. Most research regarding the efficacy of LGDs has been based on queries of rancher satisfaction with LGD performance, yet little is known regarding LGD influence on mesocarnivores, including those species against which they protect livestock. Here, we provide some preliminary observations regarding the effect of LGDs deployed with sheep and goat herds from May 2016 to April 2017 on the detected activity of mesocarnivores within occupied pastures on a 2,027-ha ranch in Menard County, central Texas, USA. Specifically, we were interested in learning if the presence of LGDs might affect the activity of nontarget mesocarnivores (i.e., mammalian predators that do not pose a predation threat to sheep or goats) apart from carnivores that do. To conduct this research, we deployed global positioning system radio-collars on 4 LGDs to record their positions and evaluate their spatial distribution across the ranch over the course of the study. To detect and quantify the presence of these carnivores across the ranch, we established a grid of remote cameras that continuously surveyed for their presence over the course of a year. We detected 8 mesocarnivore species and documented variable effects on activity by each species in relation to the locations of the radio-marked LGDs. Environmental factors rather than LGD presence accounted for most of the variation we observed in mesocarnivore activity. Mesocarnivore activity was also highest in areas without livestock. For those concerned with livestock–wildlife coexistence, our results suggest that LGD presence does not alter the activity of mesocarnivores not typically identified as a threat to sheep and goats. For those managing for livestock predation, our results suggest that LGD presence may negatively influence the activity of bobcats (Lynx rufus), though this effect was not independent from the influence of elevation.
Bromen, Nicholas A.; French, Justin T.; Walker, John; and Tomeček, John M.
"Spatial Relationships Between Livestock Guardian Dogs and Mesocarnivores in Central Texas,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 13
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol13/iss1/8