HUBBALLI: Dogs are a new threat to herbivores, especially spotted deer, in many parts of Karnataka.
At least 20 reports of dogs attacking deer have come in recently from the Kali Tiger Reserve, and places around it such as Dandeli, Haliyal and Kumbarwada. Haveri, which boasts a large population of black bucks, is also affected by the development.
Searching for water, deer migrate towards the cities during the summer months. Here, they are increasingly coming into conflict with stray dogs.
Dogs are territorial creatures, and mostly live in human habitats. When the deer arrive on their territory, they see them as rivals eyeing their food.
Between 2008 and 2009, eight FIRs were filed when dogs attacked herbivores in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. An investigation revealed that villagers had trained the dogs to hunt down deer and sambar.
“Nagarahole and Bandipur have also witnessed conflicts between dogs and wild animals. The increasing garbage on the fringes of the forests is one reason for the conflict,” said P A Muthanna, wildlife conservationist. The uncleared garbage attracts dogs. The Forest Department must discourage people from keeping dogs in villages close to the forests.
Dogs are often trained to hunt down herbivores, and continue the practice even when humans are no longer involved, he explained.
Wildlife experts also blame municipal corporations for the release of captured dogs in jungle areas. Recently, wildlife activists in Chikkaballapur had opposed a deputy commissioner ordering the release of stray dogs in the forest.
“The dogs can’t find any food on their own. They either hunt herbivores or fall prey to leopards and tigers,” said a wildlife expert based in Dandeli.
Stray dogs are carriers of the canine distemper disease, which could be fatal to big cats. If dogs are found inside forest areas or if they are attacking wild herbivores, they should be killed, he suggested. “Two years ago, a ranger in Kulgi killed a dog attacking a spotted deer,” he said.
Chief Wildlife Warden M B Hosmat said the department would consider suggestions to mitigate the new conflict. “We will consult experts to take short-term and long-term measures,” he said.
Vidya Atreya, wildlife expert says, it is not a problem with dogs, but with people. Many city municipalities release captured dogs in forest areas and that is causing conflict.
Wildlife activists have caught the Nashik municipality releasing dogs in the Western Ghats. Managing solid waste in towns and villages near wildlife areas is essential. Garbage dumps attract strays.
■ Sanctuaries in Nagarahole, Bandipur, Bannerghatta, Dandeli and Ranebennur witness regular frequent cases of dogs coming into conflict with wildlife.
■ Shoot down dogs found in tiger reserves and sensitive wildlife areas, some conservationists are suggesting.
■ Wildlife biologists are worried strays, carriers of the canine distemper disease, could be fatal for tigers.
■ Some dogs feed on deer and sambhar, while others feed on leftovers from tiger and leopard hunts.