BENGALURU: In view of the continuing lockdown, stray dogs as also people have started killing spotted deer, blackbucks, mouse deer, wild boars, turtles, peacocks and a host of species on the fringes of forests -- be it protected or not.
If stray dogs are hungry (as everything is shut), people who have lost their jobs in cities have returned home --and for both --- wildlife is an easily available source of protein-rich food.
In the last 10 days, forest officials have been on their toes as open killings and snaring of wildlife has risen multifold in Karnataka.
The killing of antelopes and wild boars by street dogs and people has risen steeply in areas surrounding national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests. Incidents have been reported from the districts of Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Kodagu, Chamarajanagar and northern Karnataka.
Wildlife experts and forest officials say the situation is quite alarming. However, the forest department field staffers have been nabbing the offenders.
A forest official says many youngsters who have returned from cities to villages and are idle have resorted to the hunting of wildlife while many have also been using dogs to hunt wildlife. For poachers, it is easy food and they usually set up snares in forest fringes to catch small mammals.
Activists say that in Karnataka, chital are being mercilessly hunted and killed by stray dogs and people. Further, in many areas like Bannerghatta, snares are set up in ESZ areas like Ragihalli to poach spotted deer, says Bhanuprakash, a wildlife activist.
On Monday, a pack of stray dogs roaming around in the campus of Kuvempu University bordering Bhadra Tiger Reserve killed a spotted deer. The same day a wild boar was chased by a group of people in north Karnataka aided by a pack of dogs which killed the animal.
Society of Wildlife Veterinarians South chapter Secretary Dr H S Prayag says, “Stray dogs are not getting food and are killing deer which needs to be addressed in forest fringes. These dogs can carry rabies and canine distemper. With vaccination scant, it is always risky when these interfaces happen. There is always a possibility of disease transmission which is next to impossible to control once it starts spreading in free-range wildlife.”
Raising vigil in many areas, forest officials arrested one Mahesh for attempting to snare wildlife in Bannerghatta. He was caught red-handed with snares and sickle in Sollepurdoddi area of Anekal.