Studies Of Deer-Related Dog Activity In Virginia

Three study areas and five techniques were used in this study of movements and activities of dogs and influence of dogs on deer. Radio-tracking with telemetry equipment was ineffective due to infrequent and unpredictable movement of dogs. The percentage of licensed dogs estimated from surveys of rural inhabitants was suggested to be inversely related to the number of residents under a dog warden's responsibility. Activity indices determined from sand plot track counts for dogs were not significantly different for three study areas and for the three seasons. Dogs appeared to be most active in the morning between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM. Activity and movement data from this study were compared with questionnaire responses from game wardens and biologists. Six dogs were trapped at Big Levels during the fall. Two were instrumented but tracking was ineffective. Approximately 70 percent of the dogs trapped and seen during this study were hounds. Data concerning age and condition of deer killed by dogs in Virginia were scarce. Free-running dogs may present less of a problem in eastern Virginia than in Western Virginia due to physiography of region. Dogs are probably a serious mortality factor in deer stocking programs or in areas of low deer numbers. Enforcing dog laws seems to be the most effective way to control free-running dogs. Trapping, poisoning, and shooting are desirable techniques only when enforcement methods fail. Deer mortality by dogs is probably neither large nor significant in influencing deer population dynamics statewide.

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