Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Evaluating the Efficacy of Livestock Guardian Dogs

Presenter Information

Daniel KinkaFollow
Julie YoungFollow

Class

Article

Department

Wildland Resources

Faculty Mentor

Julie Young

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Large carnivores are unique in their ability to elicit strong human emotions, making both management and conservation efforts contentious. Lethal control is still a common management practice where livestock and large carnivores overlap despite a vocal opposition that polarizes ecological politics. However, non-lethal tools for reducing livestock depredations, such as the use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), have been widely adopted by sheep producers in the United States. LGDs may greatly reduce the need for lethal management of livestock predators, but currently utilized breeds appear ineffective against wolves (Canis lupus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos). There is little empirical evidence as to whether different LGD breeds may be better suited in areas with these larger predators. This study is currently investigating the effectiveness of multiple LGD breeds in the Western U.S. to determine best management practices for LGDs where wolves and grizzly bears are present. LGD breeds common in the U.S. are being compared with three imported breeds currently underutilized in the U.S. These three novel breeds of LGDs were selected because of their long history of use in areas with wolves and brown bears in Europe and anecdotal evidence of their ability to deter large carnivores. After placing novel LGDs with sheep producers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, LGDs are monitored and data is collected on sheep mortality, LGD behavior, and occupancy of large carnivores. Research is ongoing, but preliminary findings will be discussed. Specifically, behavioral data that suggest threatening stimuli elicit more aggressive but less investigatory behavior from LGDs compared with non-threatening stimuli will be presented. Further, data collected on the co-occurrence of LGDs and large carnivores will be presented as a measure of the ecological impact of LGDs on native carnivore populations.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Evaluating the Efficacy of Livestock Guardian Dogs

Large carnivores are unique in their ability to elicit strong human emotions, making both management and conservation efforts contentious. Lethal control is still a common management practice where livestock and large carnivores overlap despite a vocal opposition that polarizes ecological politics. However, non-lethal tools for reducing livestock depredations, such as the use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), have been widely adopted by sheep producers in the United States. LGDs may greatly reduce the need for lethal management of livestock predators, but currently utilized breeds appear ineffective against wolves (Canis lupus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos). There is little empirical evidence as to whether different LGD breeds may be better suited in areas with these larger predators. This study is currently investigating the effectiveness of multiple LGD breeds in the Western U.S. to determine best management practices for LGDs where wolves and grizzly bears are present. LGD breeds common in the U.S. are being compared with three imported breeds currently underutilized in the U.S. These three novel breeds of LGDs were selected because of their long history of use in areas with wolves and brown bears in Europe and anecdotal evidence of their ability to deter large carnivores. After placing novel LGDs with sheep producers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, LGDs are monitored and data is collected on sheep mortality, LGD behavior, and occupancy of large carnivores. Research is ongoing, but preliminary findings will be discussed. Specifically, behavioral data that suggest threatening stimuli elicit more aggressive but less investigatory behavior from LGDs compared with non-threatening stimuli will be presented. Further, data collected on the co-occurrence of LGDs and large carnivores will be presented as a measure of the ecological impact of LGDs on native carnivore populations.