We surveyed professionals from the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture working with small-scale farmers to characterize the attacks of free-ranging dogs across Chile. Nationwide, in a single year, free-ranging dogs attacked 25% of the ca. 8500 farms included in the survey, killing or injuring about 10 000 small ruminants. These dogs were ranked as the main cause of animal losses for small-scale farmers, representing a threat to the livelihoods of this vulnerable group. Further, free-ranging dogs attacking small ruminants were considered as human-subsidized, since they would be recruited by irresponsible ownership and abandonment from urban centers. This is the first national assessment reporting that human-subsidized dogs are a main threat to livestock rearing. Policies to control populations of these animals should target their anthropogenic origin as well as cultural shifts in dog ownership and animal welfare. While these policies may be effective mid- to long-term approaches, short-term actions may also be needed.
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We are thankful to all PRODESAL and PDTI professionals that work on a daily basis to make Chile a better country. We appreciate the support of Dr. Javier Fernández and Dr. Juan Jiménez from the Ministerio de Agricultura de Chile. We thank Dr. Héctor Pavez for providing us his experience, which improved the survey, and the help of Dr. Joseph Gaydos and Dr. Emily Pascoe. We also wish to thank Joe Roy-Mayhew, and Jay McNair for their feedback and edits on earlier drafts of this article. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments improved this manuscript.
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Montecino-Latorre, D., San Martín, W. Evidence supporting that human-subsidized free-ranging dogs are the main cause of animal losses in small-scale farms in Chile. Ambio 48, 240–250 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1066-3