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Effects of Management of Domestic Dogs and Recreation on Carnivores in Protected Areas in Northern California

Authors

  • SARAH E. REED,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3110, U.S.A.
      Current address: Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1474, email sarah.reed@colostate.edu
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  • ADINA M. MERENLENDER

    1. Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3110, U.S.A.
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Current address: Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1474, email sarah.reed@colostate.edu

Abstract

Abstract: In developed countries dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are permitted to accompany human visitors to many protected areas (e.g., >96% of protected lands in California, U.S.A.), and protected-area management often focuses on regulating dogs due to concerns about predation, competition, or transmission of disease and conflicts with human visitors. In 2004 and 2005, we investigated whether carnivore species richness and abundance were associated with management of domestic dogs and recreational visitation in protected areas in northern California. We surveyed for mammalian carnivores and human visitors in 21 recreation areas in which dogs were allowed offleash or onleash or were excluded, and we compared our observations in the recreation areas with observations in seven reference sites that were not open to the public. Carnivore abundance and species richness did not differ among the three types of recreation areas, but native carnivore species richness was 1.7 times greater (p < 0.01) and the relative abundances of native coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) were over four times greater (p < 0.01) in the reference sites. Abundances of bobcats and all carnivores declined as the number of visitors increased. The policy on domestic dogs did not appear to affect species richness and abundance of mammalian carnivores. But the number of dogs we observed was strongly associated with human visitation (R2= 0.54), so the key factors associated with recreational effects on carnivores appear to be the presence and number of human visitors to protected areas.

Abstract

Resumen: En países desarrollados, se permite que perros (Canis lupus familiaris) acompañen a visitantes humanos en muchas áreas protegidas (e.g., > 96% de las áreas protegidas en California, E.U.A.), y el manejo de áreas protegidas a menudo se enfoca en la regulación de perros debido a preocupaciones respecto a la depredación, competencia o transmisión de enfermedades y conflictos con visitantes humanos. En 2004 y 2005 investigamos sí la riqueza y abundancia de especies de carnívoros se asociaban con el manejo de perros domésticos y la visita recreativa en áreas protegidas en el norte de California. Muestreamos mamíferos carnívoros y visitantes humanos en 21 áreas en las que se permitían perros con o sin correa o que fueran excluidos, y comparamos nuestras observaciones en las áreas recreativas con observaciones en 7 sitios de referencia que no estaban abiertos al público. La riqueza y abundancia de carnívoros no difirió en los 3 tipos de áreas recreativas, pero la riqueza de especies de carnívoros fue 1.7 veces mayor (p < 0.01) y las abundancias relativas de coyotes nativos (Canis latrans) y linces (Lynx rufus) fueron más de 4 veces mayores (p < 0.01) en los sitios de referencia. La abundancia de linces y de todos los carnívoros declinó a medida que el incrementaba el número de visitantes. La política sobre perros domésticos pareció no afectar a la riqueza y abundancia de mamíferos carnívoros. Pero el número de perros que observamos estaba fuertemente asociado con la visita de humanos (R2= 0.54), así que los factores clave asociados con los efectos de actividades recreativas sobre carnívoros parecen ser la presencia y número de visitantes humanos a las áreas protegidas.

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