From the BBC:
Dog walks ‘prompting bird flight‘
Our four-legged friends are viewed differently by birds
Taking your dog for a walk could be having an impact on local birdlife, a study suggests.
An Australian team found dog-walking was prompting birds to take flight, causing numbers to plummet by 41%.
The researchers, writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, said the birds were fleeing because they viewed the dogs as potential predators.
Charity Birdlife International said the longer-term effects of the dogs’ presence now needed to be looked at.
Peter Banks, the lead author of the paper from the University of New South Wales, said: “There is an obvious link between people wanting to walk their dogs and the potential disturbance effect on wildlife, and there has been a lot of debate around this, so we wanted to resolve this issue.”
The researchers looked at 90 woodland trails a few kilometres north of Sydney, half regularly used by dog-walkers and half where the animals were prohibited.
Dogs were walked, on leads, along the 250m-long (820ft) trails, followed 20 seconds later by an observer who counted the birds seen and heard. The experiment was repeated for walkers without dogs and for a control scenario where there were neither walkers nor dogs.
Dr Banks said: “The key finding is that dog-walking certainly does have an impact on birds – and we were quite surprised by the magnitude of the impact.”
The team found that dog-walking was causing bird numbers to drop by an average of 41% at each site and the numbers of species counted fell by 35%.
The results were similar in sites often frequented by dog-walkers and those where the practice was prohibited, suggesting that birds did not get used to the dogs’ presence, despite frequent encounters.
Humans walking alone also caused a disturbance to bird numbers, but on average less than half of that caused by dog-walking.
See also here.
Dog walker prosecuted for bird disturbance on a nature reserve: here.
Cornwall nature reserve blighted by dog mess: here.
Dogs and deer: here.
Do dingoes suppress the activity of feral cats in northern Australia? Here.
Dutch dogs butcher roe deer: here.