Research Highlight

Street dog deaths are mostly human-influenced

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.14 Published online 29 January 2016

Anindita Bhadra

Researchers have reported high rates of mortality among street dogs in India with less than a fifth of the dogs surviving till reproductive age1. They say much of this mortality is human influenced.

In a five-year-long census-based study in the West Bengal state of India, the researchers tried to understand the pattern of population growth and factors affecting early life mortality in free-ranging dogs. They observed 95 litters of pups and found that only about 19% of the 364 pups survived till the reproductive age. Almost 63% of the total mortality was human influenced.

While living near people increased resource availability for dogs, it also had deep adverse impacts on their population growth, making the dog-human relationship on streets highly complex, the researchers say.

The researchers also found differential mortality in the two sexes "simply because people tend to carry away male pups from their mothers". Most of these "adopted" pups did not make it to adulthood either, as they were abandoned by their abductors when they ceased to look cute and cuddly, says one of the researchers Anindita Bhadra.

"Free-ranging dogs are a ubiquitous part of human habitations in many developing countries, leading a life of scavengers dependent on human wastes for survival. The effective management of free-ranging dogs calls for understanding of their population dynamics," Bhadra says.


1. Paul, M. et al. High early life mortality in free-ranging dogs is largely influenced by humans. Sci. Rep. 6, 19641 (2016) doi: 10.1038/srep19641