A Preliminary Survey of Pet Dogs Roaming Behaviour in the Periphery of Protected Area in Bhutan: A Case Study in Haa District
Keywords:Bhutan, GPS collar, movement, pet dogs, protected area
Free-roaming pet dogs pose threats to humans, livestock, wild animals, and the environment through dog bites and the transmission of diseases. We used TK-STAR© GPS-collars designed for tracking pet dogs to study the movement distance and activity range of pet dogs in Haa, western Bhutan. A total of 34 dogs or pet dogs (Uesu gewog, n = 17; Katsho gewog, n = 17) consisting of 18 (53%) female and 16 (47%) male dogs were collared to trace their movement pattern for 24 hours. In total, 8,109 GPS fixes were recorded and pet dogs travelled a distance of 258.5 ± 8.0 m (mean ± SE), and the maximum distance travelled was 9,472 m in 24 hours. The maximum distance travelled by pet dogs in Katsho and Uesu were 7,916.25 and 9,472 m respectively. The daily activities of pet dogs
which include a search for food, exercise, walking, playing, and hunting were less than 1,500 m2. The 95% activity range of pet dogs in Uesu was 1,440 m2 and 1,200 m2 in Katsho gewog without any significant differences between the two gewogs. The majority (81%) of the GPS fixes were located within the gewogs and most of the dogs remained close to human settlements. None of the tracked dogs of Uesu and Katsho gewog entered protected areas. One of the pet dogs that travelled approximately 5,000 m from the home premises of the owner was found to be seropositive against canine distemper virus indicating a risk of disease transmission from dogs to endangered wildlife. So, it is recommended to make pet owners responsible by providing training on proper housing and management to control the country's free-roaming pet dog population.