University of Oulu

Tikkunen M, Kojola I (2020) Does public information about wolf (Canis lupus) movements decrease wolf attacks on hunting dogs (C. familiaris)? Nature Conservation 42: 33-49.

Does public information about wolf (Canis lupus) movements decrease wolf attacks on hunting dogs (C. familiaris)?

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Author: Tikkunen, Mari1; Kojola, Ilpo2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, PL 8000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Ounasjoentie 6, FI-96100 Rovaniemi, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Pensoft Publishers, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-10


The threat that wolves (Canis lupus) pose to hunting dogs is one reason why Finnish hunters have negative attitudes towards wolves and one of the potential motivations for the illegal killing of wolves. During 2010–2017, wolves killed an average of 38 dogs (range 24–50) per year in Finland. Most of the attacks (91%) were directed at hunting dogs during the hunting season. To decrease the risk of attacks, the last seven positions (one position per hour) of GPS-collared wolves were accessible to the public with a 5 × 5 km resolution during the hunting seasons (from August 20th to February 28th) of 2013/2014 (from September 2nd onwards), 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018. The link was visited more than 1 million times in 3 of the 4 seasons. Fatal attacks on dogs occurred on 17% of the days during the hunting seasons of our study (n = 760 days). Both the attacks and visits peaked in September–November, which is the primary hunting season in Finland. According to the general linear model, the number of daily visits to the website was higher on days when fatal attacks occurred than on other days. Additionally, season and the number of days passed from the first day of the season were significantly related to the daily visits. Visits were temporally auto-correlated, and the parameter values in the model where the dependent variable was the number of visits on the next day were only slightly different from those in the first model. A two-way interaction between season and attack existed, and the least squares means were significantly different in 2017/2018. The change in daily visits between consecutive days was related only to the number of days from the beginning of the season. We examined whether this kind of service decreased dog attacks by wolves. Wolf attacks were recorded in 32% of the wolf territories, where at least one wolf had been collared (n = 22). However, within the territories without any GPS-collared wolves, the proportion of territories with wolf attack(s) was significantly higher than those elsewhere (50%, n = 48). Although public information decreased the risk of attacks, it did not completely protect dogs from wolf attacks and may in some cases increase the risk of illegally killing wolves. The most remarkable benefit of this kind of service to the conservation of the wolf population might be the message to the public that management is not overlooking hunters’ concerns about wolf attacks on their dogs.

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Series: Nature conservation
ISSN: 1314-6947
ISSN-E: 1314-3301
ISSN-L: 1314-6947
Issue: 42
Pages: 33 - 49
DOI: 10.3897/natureconservation.42.48314
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Copyright information: Copyright Mari Tikkunen & Ilpo Kojola. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.