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18 May 2023 Management and Behavior of Livestock Guarding Dogs in a Multiuse Rural Landscape in Northern Israel
Clotilde Gavagnach, Dror Ben-Ami
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The efficacy of livestock guarding dogs (LGDs; Canis familiaris) on modern ranches in the dense multiuse landscape of rural northern Israel is controversial. Minimal time is spent by the ranchers with the herd and LGDs, and the LGDs are known to wander to nearby army bases, homesteads, villages, and other facilities. Thirteen Akbash and six mixed-breed LGDs guarding cattle in a paddock were observed through direct observations and tracking with Global Positioning System collars. Predator presence and interaction with LGDs were recorded using telemetry and trail cameras. In addition, 10 local ranchers were interviewed to assess the effects of management and LGD use on depredation. We expected Akbash LGDs to exhibit behavioral traits consistent with depredation mitigation and that differing ranch-LGD management methods would impact depredation levels. At the study ranch, depredations were at a minimum despite the presence of three wolf packs (Canis lupus) and jackals (Canis aureus) in the vicinity of the observed ranch. The Akbash LGDs spatially displaced wolves and temporally displaced jackals, but they also regularly roamed away from the paddock and returned. In addition, Akbash LGDs were more likely to follow the herd than mixed-breed LGDs; the total number of LGDs in the paddock increased with the number of newborn calves; and LGD intra-aggression increased with the number of LGDs present in the paddock. In the survey, we found little relationship between ranch management type and depredation outcomes. In particular, the use of protective enclosures by some ranches did not mitigate depredation compared with ranches without enclosures. In modern multiuse landscapes, Akbash LGDs show potential for being an important component of depredation mitigation, but their relative contribution needs to be studied further. In addition, the use of protective enclosures, which are known to have negative ecological impacts, should be reconsidered. Several improvements to LGD management are suggested.

Clotilde Gavagnach and Dror Ben-Ami "Management and Behavior of Livestock Guarding Dogs in a Multiuse Rural Landscape in Northern Israel," Rangeland Ecology and Management 88(1), 85-99, (18 May 2023).
Received: 30 June 2022; Accepted: 17 February 2023; Published: 18 May 2023
human-wildlife conflict
Livestock guarding dog
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