USU professor analyzes current issues regarding feral animals and abuse

A USU assistant professor and federal researcher had an article published on Feb. 3 in the journal “Bioscience” about feral and free-roaming dogs and their interactions with endangered species in Mongolia.”Now feral dogs aren’t so much a problem in Mongolia because they have a very strict national policy to shoot on-sight feral dogs,” said Julie Young of the department of wildland resources. “Sometimes numbers can be pretty high for what they have to remove (kill) in a year.”Utah Representative Curtis Oda is the chief sponsor of proposed bill H.B. 210, which is currently before legislature for the 2011 general session. The bill addresses animal cruelty and animal torture.”‘Torture’ does not include shooting an animal with the intent to humanely kill the animal,” H.B. 210 states. “The provisions of this bill do not affect or prohibit the humane shooting or killing of an animal if the person doing the shooting or killing has a reasonable belief that the animal is a feral animal.”Young said most states in the U.S. have some kind of policy in place that deals with how to manage feral animal populations. She said some states’ policies are similar to Mongolia’s shoot-on-sight policy.In Mongolia, there are wildlife officers similar to state employees from the division of wildlife. These officers are responsible for the extermination of feral dogs.”Most of their job is to promote endangered species or help if people have questions about habitat,” Young said. “It’s usually more positive.”She said her research in Mongolia centered around the endangered species Saiga, which is a Mongolian antelope. The scientists began to notice groups of free-roaming and feral dogs that would harass and chase the Saiga. Sometimes the dogs even attacked and killed the endangered animals.A free-roaming dog is still someone’s pet, Young said. They’re not continuously fenced in or tied up.Feral dogs are animals that are no longer pets at all and may have been born to other feral dogs, making them wild. Michael Bishop, director of the Cache Humane Society (CHS) in Logan, said since the shelter opened in October 2008, it has received 167 feral cats and 13 feral dogs.”This isn’t an area that we have pursued or worked heavily because there’s so much other work just with the normal domesticated pet that needs to be done to help this community more,” Bishop said.

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