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Article

Wolf–Hunting Dog Interactions in a Biodiversity Hot Spot Area in Northern Greece: Preliminary Assessment and Implications for Conservation in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park and Adjacent Areas

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WWF Greece, Lempesi 21, GR-117 43 Athens, Greece
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Callisto Wildlife Society, Mitropoleos 123, GR-54621 Thessaloniki, Greece
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Department of Biological Applications and Technologies, University of Ioannina Campus, University of Ioannina, Stavros Niarchos Avenue, GR-45110 Ioannina, Greece
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Department of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimioupoli, Ilisia, GR-15701 Athens, Greece
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Management Body of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park, GR-68400 Dadia, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Pia Lucidi
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3235; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113235
Received: 8 October 2021 / Revised: 6 November 2021 / Accepted: 8 November 2021 / Published: 12 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Human-Wildlife Conflict and Interaction)
Wolf attacks on hunting dogs are on the rise in many European countries, triggering retaliatory killing and poisoning of wolves. Poisoning may have detrimental effects on endangered vulture species. In critical areas for vulture conservation such as the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park, the conflict should be urgently evaluated. We assessed levels, trends, and defined related factors, by interviewing hunters and undertaking a diet analysis of wolf scats. Attacks affected mostly hare hunters, certain dog breeds and age classes, averaged one dog per hunter and decade, and happened under certain circumstances. Affected areas had specific landscape characteristics, fewer livestock, more hunting, and presence of wolf reproduction. Trends of wolf attacks on hunting dogs were positive and those on livestock negative. Wolves fed mainly on roe deer in summer and wild boar in winter, while the presence of dogs in scats was 5.1% in winter. Reduced dependence of wolves on livestock, as well as changes in wolf diet and hunting practices, may have predisposed wolves to kill more dogs recently. Wild boar also injured or killed hunting dogs, very often perplexing assessment of the conflict. The study concludes on practical measures for verifying and reducing hunting dog losses from wolf attacks.
Hunting dog depredation by wolves triggers retaliatory killing, with negative impacts on wildlife conservation. In the wider area of the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park, reports on such incidents have increased lately. To investigate this conflict, we interviewed 56 affected hunters, conducted wolf trophic analysis, analyzed trends for 2010–2020, applied MAXENT models for risk-map creation, and GLMs to explore factors related to depredation levels. Losses averaged approximately one dog per decade and hunter showing a positive trend, while livestock depredations showed a negative trend. Wolves preyed mainly on wild prey, with dogs consisting of 5.1% of the winter diet. Low altitude areas, with low to medium livestock availability favoring wolf prey and game species, were the riskiest. Dogs were more vulnerable during hare hunting and attacks more frequent during wolf post-weaning season or in wolf territories with reproduction. Hunter experience and group hunting reduced losses. Wolves avoided larger breeds or older dogs. Making noise or closely keeping dogs reduced attack severity. Protective dog vests, risk maps, and enhancing wolf natural prey availability are further measures to be considered, along with a proper verification system to confirm and effectively separate wolf attacks from wild boar attacks, which were also common. View Full-Text
Keywords: Canis lupus; hunting dogs; depredation; prey selection; predation risk maps; Dadia Forest National Park; wildlife poisoning Canis lupus; hunting dogs; depredation; prey selection; predation risk maps; Dadia Forest National Park; wildlife poisoning
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MDPI and ACS Style

Iliopoulos, Y.; Antoniadi, E.; Kret, E.; Zakkak, S.; Skartsi, T. Wolf–Hunting Dog Interactions in a Biodiversity Hot Spot Area in Northern Greece: Preliminary Assessment and Implications for Conservation in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park and Adjacent Areas. Animals 2021, 11, 3235. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113235

AMA Style

Iliopoulos Y, Antoniadi E, Kret E, Zakkak S, Skartsi T. Wolf–Hunting Dog Interactions in a Biodiversity Hot Spot Area in Northern Greece: Preliminary Assessment and Implications for Conservation in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park and Adjacent Areas. Animals. 2021; 11(11):3235. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113235

Chicago/Turabian Style

Iliopoulos, Yorgos, Eirini Antoniadi, Elzbieta Kret, Sylvia Zakkak, and Theodora Skartsi. 2021. "Wolf–Hunting Dog Interactions in a Biodiversity Hot Spot Area in Northern Greece: Preliminary Assessment and Implications for Conservation in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park and Adjacent Areas" Animals 11, no. 11: 3235. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113235

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