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Attacks on hunting dogs: the case of wolf–dog interactions in Croatia. Bassi E, Pervan I, Ugarković D, Kavčić K, Maksan MT, Krofel M, Šprem N. European Journal of Wildlife Research. 2021 Feb
Gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations are expanding across Europe, which leads to an increase in their interactions with people and domestic animals, including dogs. Attacks on hunting dogs are becoming a major cause for conflicts between wolves and hunters in many countries, including Croatia, where this conflict has increased dramatically in recent years. To better understand the conflict and possible causes behind the attacks, we conducted a survey among Croatian hunters to investigate the trends and characteristics of the attacks. A total of 103 hunting dogs were reported as attacked by wolves in 2010–2018 with a significantly increasing trend. The attacks were fatal for 86% of the attacked dogs and among the dogs killed, 96% were at least partly consumed by the wolves. The most frequently attacked dogs were about 3 years old (47%), males (82%), and weighing 10–20 kg (62%) and belonged to scent hounds and related breeds. In respect to the breed, dogs were not attacked randomly, but we observed significant selection for tricolor hound, while Balkan hound, the Istrian hound, and the Posavina hound were avoided according to availability. Majority (64%) of dogs were killed during drive hunts on wild boar and highest frequency of attacks was recorded in the Split–Dalmatia County. More dogs were attacked in counties with more livestock and fewer wild prey, but correlations were not significant. Results suggest that wolves likely perceived dogs as potential prey and indicate some of the potential measures that could be used to mitigate the conflict.