2008.10.01: October 1, 2008: Headlines: COS - Mexico: Animals: Biology: Environment: BioOne: Mexico PCV Ben Lenth writes: The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mexico: Peace Corps Mexico : Peace Corps Mexico: Newest Stories: 2009.09.02: September 2, 2009: Headlines: COS - Mexico: Environment: Wet Mountain Tribune: Mexico RPCV Ben Lenth is the new Land Protection Specialist at San Isabel Land Protection Trust (SILPT) : 2008.10.01: October 1, 2008: Headlines: COS - Mexico: Animals: Biology: Environment: BioOne: Mexico PCV Ben Lenth writes: The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities

By Admin1 (admin) ( on Friday, September 18, 2009 - 10:14 am: Edit Post

Mexico PCV Ben Lenth writes: The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities

Mexico PCV Ben Lenth writes: The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities

Ben Lenth received a BA in Biology from Wesleyan University and an MS in Ecology from Colorado State University. He is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Mexico, working in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve with a local NGO, the Grupo Ecolσgico Sierra Gorda.

Mexico PCV Ben Lenth writes: The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities

The Effects of Dogs on Wildlife Communities

Benjamin E. Lentha,1,2, Richard L. Knighta, Mark E. Brennanb

aDepartment of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1472

bBoulder County Parks and Open Space, 5201 St. Vrain Rd., Longmont, CO 80503

1 Corresponding author: Ben.Lenth@gmail.com

2 Current address: Grupo Ecolσgico Sierra Gorda, Carlos Septiem Garcia #46, Col. Cimatario, C.P. 76030, Querιtaro, Mιxico

Ben Lenth received a BA in Biology from Wesleyan University and an MS in Ecology from Colorado State University. He is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Mexico, working in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve with a local NGO, the Grupo Ecolσgico Sierra Gorda.

Rick Knight is a professor of wildlife conservation at Colorado State University. His interests deal with land use and land health in the American West.

Mark Brennan is a wildlife biologist with Boulder County Parks and Open Space. He has a BS in Ecology and an MS in Wildlife Sciences. His interests are in the impacts of urbanization and recreation on wildlife communities and the management of modified habitats for wildlife.


Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are frequent visitors to protected areas, but little is known about how they affect wildlife communities. We studied the effects of dogs on wildlife communities by comparing the activity levels of wildlife in areas that prohibited dogs with areas that allowed dogs. We measured wildlife activity on trails and up to 200 m away from trails using five methods: (1) pellet plots, (2) track plates, (3) remote triggered cameras, (4) on-trail scat surveys, and (5) mapping prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) burrow locations. The presence of dogs along recreational trails correlated with altered patterns of habitat utilization by several species. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) activity was significantly lower within 100 m of trails in areas that allowed dogs than in areas that prohibited dogs. Small mammals, including squirrels (Sciurus spp.) and rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.), also exhibited reduced levels of activity within 50 m of trails in areas that allowed dogs when compared with areas without. The density of prairie dog burrows was lower within 25 m of trails in areas that allowed dogs. The presence of dogs also affected carnivore activity. Bobcat (Felis rufus) detections were lower in areas that allowed dogs, and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) detections were higher. These findings have implications for the management of natural areas, particularly those that allow dogs to be off-leash.

Keywords: domestic dogs, mule deer, protected area management, recreation, recreational trails


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