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Who is the killer? Barking up the wrong tree


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In recent years, several cases of predation on hunting dogs have been reported in Italy. These cases caused uproar among owners and the wolf was singled out as the culprit. The remains of a dog allegedly killed by wolves were submitted for forensic analysis. Wolf predation was ruled out based on gross findings and wild boar aggression was suspected instead. Genetic analysis of salivary swab samples confirmed that wild boars fed on the dog. As poaching is one of the main threats to wolf conservation, it is essential to identify correctly the predator in cases of attacks on domestic animals.
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Mammalia 2019; 83(5): 483–486
Short Note
Alessia Mariacher*, Rita Fanelli, Luisa Garofalo, Gabriella Perfetti, Rita Lorenzini
and Rosario Fico
Who is the killer? Barking up the wrong tree
Received June 19, 2018; accepted October 30, 2018; previously
published online December 20, 2018
Abstract: In recent years, several cases of predation on
hunting dogs have been reported in Italy. These cases
caused uproar among owners and the wolf was singled
out as the culprit. The remains of a dog allegedly killed
by wolves were submitted for forensic analysis. Wolf pre-
dation was ruled out based on gross findings and wild
boar aggression was suspected instead. Genetic analysis
of salivary swab samples confirmed that wild boars fed on
the dog. As poaching is one of the main threats to wolf
conservation, it is essential to identify correctly the preda-
tor in cases of attacks on domestic animals.
Keywords: hunting dog; predation; salivary samples; wild
boar attack.
In the winter of 2015–2016, several cases of predation and
consumption on domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
were reported in Tuscany (Central Italy) by local press and
social media. A vast majority of dogs were used for wild
boar (Sus scrofa) hunting. Owners reported that hounds,
unleashed in the woods to track the boars, were found
dead within hours and carcasses appeared largely con-
sumed. These cases caused uproar among hunters and
dog owners, and the wolf (Canis lupus) was singled out
as being responsible for the killings, despite the lack of
official necroscopic examinations or other scientifically
collected evidence on the deceased dogs. In January 2016,
a hound got lost whilst boar hunting in the woods in the
Province of Siena (Tuscany). A couple of hours after dis-
appearance, the dog was found dead thanks to a global
positioning system (GPS) tracker; the carcass appeared to
be extensively but incompletely consumed. The dog was
submitted for post-mortem examination. The aim of this
short report was to outline a forensic approach to preda-
tion cases with media coverage, in which pointing out the
wrong culprit may have negative consequences on the
conservation of endangered species.
The examined dog (Figure 1) was an adult female
Maremma hound. The carcass was devoid of the skin
and superficial muscles. The skin was only preserved
at the head and left rear limb. Skin margins had a scal-
loped appearance and did not show bruising or bleeding,
suggesting that defleshing had occurred post-mortem.
Lesions consistent with intra-vitam or post-mortem car-
nivore bite marks, such as paired incised or punctured
wounds (Pavlov and Hone 1982, Bury etal. 2012), were
not identified. Large chunks of intercostal muscles were
missing, amongst multiple rib fractures. Signs of deep fur-
rowing on the distal bone end were observed on the left
femur, on both compact and cancellous bone (Figure2).
No punctures or pits were identified on bones, while these
lesions are usually produced by carnivore scavenging
(Colard etal. 2014, Young et al. 2015). Viscera were not
affected by consumption. The cause of death could not
be determined due to the incompleteness of the remains.
From necroscopic findings, the signs of consumption
on the carcass were not consistent with the action of a
Eight salivary swab samples were collected with
cotton swabs from the margins of scavenging lesions on
muscles and long bones (one sample per lesion). The
swabs were individually put in sterile plastic tubes and
frozen at −20°C until processing. The DNA was extracted
following published methods (Lorenzini etal. 2014). One
mock tube with reagents and no DNA was included. Two
panels of 18 and 12 nuclear loci specific to Canis lupus
and Sus scrofa, respectively, were amplified following
published protocols (Lorenzini 2005, Lorenzini et al.
2014). Negative controls were added to each polymerase
*Corresponding author: Alessia Mariacher, Istituto Zooprofilattico
Sperimentale delle Regioni Lazio e Toscana, Centro di Referenza
Nazionale per la Medicina Forense Veterinaria, Viale Europa 30,
58100 Grosseto, Italy, e-mail:
Rita Fanelli, Luisa Garofalo and Rita Lorenzini: Istituto
Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Regioni Lazio e Toscana,
Centro di Referenza Nazionale per la Medicina Forense Veterinaria,
Via Tancia 21, 02100 Rieti, Italy
Gabriella Perfetti: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle
Regioni Lazio e Toscana, Sezione di Siena, Viale Toselli 12, 53100
Siena, Italy
Rosario Fico: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Regioni
Lazio e Toscana, Centro di Referenza Nazionale per la Medicina
Forense Veterinaria, Viale Europa 30, 58100 Grosseto, Italy
Open Access. © 2019 Alessia Mariacher et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.
484A. Mariacher etal.: Who is the killer? Barking up the wrong tree
chain reaction (PCR) session to check for contamination.
PCR products were loaded onto an 3130 Genetic Ana-
lyzer (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA). Allele
sizing was performed using the GeneMapper Software
Version 3.1 (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA).
Genetic profiles obtained from the eight samples at the 18
loci specific to C. lupus were all identical and coincided
with the profile of the dog. No alleles attributable only
to wolves were found from any swab. The amplification
of the short tandem repeat (STR) panels specific to S.
scrofa was positive for four salivary samples. One sample
yielded a single complete genotype while the remaining
three swabs showed more than two alleles at three dif-
ferent loci. Statistical analyses assigned the genotypes to
the wild boar population (c.f. Lorenzini 2005, Lorenzini
et al. 2014). Furthermore, the presence of three or four
alleles per locus revealed that at least two boar individu-
als fed on the dog.
Boar hunting in Tuscany is traditionally practiced
with a pack of hounds: the dogs are unleashed in the
woods to track the boars and to push them towards the
hunters. When the hounds meet a pack of wild boars or if
they succeed to isolate an adult boar, a fight can happen
in which the dogs can be severely injured. For this reason,
nowadays hunters commonly employ GPS trackers on
the dog collars, to retrieve injured or deceased dogs.
Lesions produced by wild boar aggression on dogs typi-
cally show a so-called “iceberg effect”, i.e. despite a small
skin wound an extensive damage of underlying tissues is
present, involving large vessels, nerves and viscera. Often
the deeper injury is far from the entrance at the skin level
and 25% of wounds penetrates into the thoracic or abdom-
inal cavity, according to Barsotti etal. (2001). This wound
pattern is due to the typical pointed and curved shape
of canine teeth (the so-called tusks) in the wild boar.
The lower canines are particularly prominent and sharp
in adult male boars (Kose etal. 2011), whilst the lesions
produced by young boars and females, who do not grow
analogous tusks, predominantly consist of shallow bites.
In an experimental study on bone modifications
induced by suids (Domínguez-Solera and Domínguez-
Rodrigo 2009), it was observed that a prominent use of the
incisor teeth provides distinctive features to suids’ tooth-
marking. In contrast to carnivores feeding on bones with
premolars and molars, suids indeed rather remove flesh
with their incisors, producing a characteristic furrowing
with flat removal of cancellous bone.
Cases of fatal aggression by wild boars have been
described in humans, where death is usually attributed to
exsanguination from vascular injuries or evisceration from
penetrating wounds to the abdomen (Langley 1994, Mani-
pady etal. 2006, Bury etal. 2012, Mayer 2013). Wild boars
and feral pigs have also been reported to actively predate
on livestock (Pavlov and Hone 1982, Fico etal. 1993, Barrett
and Birmingham 1994), but in the case of a boar hunt it
is more likely that the aggression was started as a defen-
sive action. In a review on wild pig attacks against humans
(Mayer 2013), it appeared that attacks from boars under
hunting circumstances were mostly inflicted by wounded
animals. Dogs too were frequently involved in these
attacks, and could get injured or killed (Mayer 2013).
In the present case, it can be hypothesized that the dog
has been attacked by one or more boars during the hunt.
Death may have been caused by injuries undetectable after
the extensive consumption of the carcass, such as lacera-
tions of major vessels, or penetrating wounds at the chest
with development of pneumothorax but lack of lesions on
Figure 2:Left femur.
Collection of salivary swab from a consumption mark (furrowing on
the distal bone end).
Figure 1:Extensive consumption on the carcass of an adult female
Maremma hound, found in the woods after being lost during boar
A. Mariacher etal.: Who is the killer? Barking up the wrong tree485
cavitary organs. The aggression eventually evolved into
carcass consumption by at least two different individuals.
The species is a known opportunistic omnivore (DeVault
and Rhodes 2002, Selva etal. 2005) and also in some fatal
attacks on humans, wild boars have been reported con-
suming the remains of the victims (Domínguez-Solera and
Domínguez-Rodrigo 2009, Mayer 2013).
The Italian wolf population has increased in recent
years, especially in Central Italy. In the years 2009–2013,
the Apennines sub-population consistency was estimated
to be 1212–1711 wolves (Galaverni et al. 2016). Official
reports in 2015 counted about 109 reproductive wolf packs
in the Tuscany region alone (Regione Toscana 2017).
The increase in the wolf population caused a resurgence
of conflicts with human activities, especially in areas of
recent recolonization (Lovari etal. 2007). Illegal killings
(poaching with firearms, traps or poison) still represent
one of the main threats to the conservation of the species
(Dondina etal. 2014, Galaverni etal. 2016). For this reason
it is essential not only to implement conflict management
practices, but also to establish with certainty the identity
of the predator in cases of aggression whether on livestock
and pet animals (Fico et al. 2005, Caniglia et al. 2013,
Peltola and Heikkilä 2015) or on humans (Caniglia etal.
2016). Furthermore, reliable predator identification would
be a necessary condition to consider compensation meas-
ures for dog losses due to wolf attacks.
The prejudicial attribution to the wolf in episodes
of predation on dogs in Italy, probably stems from docu-
mented cases in northern Europe or USA (Kojola and Kuit-
tinen 2002, Backeryd 2007, Olson etal. 2014). Most dogs
in these countries are killed by wolves while employed
in hunting activities, and wolf attacks have been shown
to increase during periods of low ungulate prey densi-
ties. Nevertheless, in Italy, wild boar represents the main
prey of the wolf (Mori etal. 2017) and wild boar census in
Tuscany reports a pre-reproductive consistency of 150,000
individuals (Regione Toscana 2018). These data can lead
to ruling out the scarcity of wild prey as a trigger for pos-
sible predatory behavior of wolves on dogs at least in this
region. Overall in the Mediterranean area, caution should
be taken in cases of dog killings to exclude other scenar-
ios that are probably more common, such as aggression
by wild boars to hunting dogs, especially where boars are
locally abundant.
Hounds during the hunting season are at risk of
suffering defensive attacks, injuries or being killed by
wild animals who have been disturbed during the hunt.
Defensive behavior and consequent injuries or killings
have been described in Italy by the wild boar (Barsotti
et al. 2001) and the crested porcupine Hystrix cristata
(Mori et al. 2014). However, only the wild boar shows
a feeding behavior on dog remains after the attack.
There are no unique patterns of consumption described
Table 1:Summary of reported cases of wild boar aggressions on domestic animals.
Pavlov and Hone  Barsotti etal.  Mayer  This paper
Domestic animal
Lamb (Ovis aries) Dog Dog (%), camel (Camelus
dromedarius), domestic pig
(Sus scrofa), horse (Equus
caballus), ox (Bos taurus)
Location New South Wales (Australia) Tuscany (Italy) Worldwide scale study Tuscany (Italy)
Season Fall and spring n.a. Seasonal increase in attacks
during fall and winter
Ongoing hunting
No Yes (boar hunt) Both hunting and non-
hunting activities
Yes (boar hunt)
N° of domestic
animals involved
  
Aggression outcome Death % deep injuries to
thigh or shoulder
% penetrating wounds
to chest or abdomen
– % superficial wounds
% uninjured or escaped
– % injured
– % killed (all dogs)
following aggression
Yes n.a. Yes
Necroscopic findings Almost complete
consumption of lamb
carcass in min (see
original paper for detailed
n.a. Extensive consumption of
the carcass
Deep furrowing on distal
femur, on compact and
cancellous bone
486A. Mariacher etal.: Who is the killer? Barking up the wrong tree
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features of bite marks; eventually, necroscopic findings
should be corroborated by molecular analysis. This is
the first report of the combined use of forensic pathology
and genetics to allow identification of wild boar as being
responsible for a case of aggression and consumption on
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... (a) Verified: (1) wolves were directly observed approaching, attacking, injuring, or killing a dog(s) and/or (2) observed close to the attack site and then characteristic wounds were evident on injured or killed dogs, like throat and neck bites or other paired incised or punctured wounds [52]. (b) Probable: (1) Injured or killed dogs had characteristic wounds and/or (2) when those were absent, following extensive feeding on the carcass, consumption rates were very fast (i.e., full consumption in less than one hour). ...
... Apart from wolves, wild boar caused fatalities at a rate comparable to those by wolves, while injury rates were multiple times higher. Wild boar can kill and consume livestock [109,110], hunting dogs [52], or non-hunting dogs [111]. Many unprovoked at-tacks on humans were associated with hunted or injured wild boar [112] and, in some cases, on accompanying dogs, perceiving them as potential predators and attacking them in defense [113], as they can alter their behavior as an effect of intensified hunting [114]. ...
... Many unprovoked at-tacks on humans were associated with hunted or injured wild boar [112] and, in some cases, on accompanying dogs, perceiving them as potential predators and attacking them in defense [113], as they can alter their behavior as an effect of intensified hunting [114]. Given the opportunistic omnivorous diet of wild boar, which also scavenge on mammal carcasses [115,116], these cases can perplex the issue of wolf-dog interactions, with responsibilities attributed falsely to wolves when lacking proper evidence on the predation event [52]. ...
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Large carnivores in Italy and other European countries are protected by law to ensure their long-term conservation. Estimates of abundance and demographic trends of their populations are crucial for implementing effective conservation and management strategies. However, it is challenging to obtain basic demographic parameters for elusive species such as the wolf (Canis lupus). Monitoring wolf populations by standard field methods or non-invasive genetic approaches requires huge human efforts and may be exceedingly expensive on a nation-wide scale. Aiming to obtain a first approximate estimate of wolf distribution and abundance in Italy, we developed a systematic review procedure to analyze published data obtained from a variety of sources. We deduced relevant information on wolf presence and numbers from 20 peer-reviewed studies or official reports, and from 241 Standard Data Forms of Natura 2000 sites in Italy, referring to the period 2009–2013.We estimated the species abundance by combining the number of individuals reported in each study area with the values obtained by multiplying the estimated number of packs for the average pack size. Comparing our estimates with those previously reported, we evaluated the qualitative trend of the population for each of the two management units: Alps and Apennines. Results showed the occurrence of approximately 321 wolf packs in Italy, corresponding to 1269–1800 wolves, possibly still underestimated. The Apennine sub-population seems to be almost the double in size (with ca. 1212–1711 wolves in the period 2009–2013) compared to previous estimates (600–800 wolves between 2006 and 2011). The Alpine sub-population, despite its ongoing eastwards expansion, appears rather stable (with 57–89 wolves). Overall, the current wolf population size and trends seem favorable, although the species is still locally threatened by widespread poaching and accidents. These results represent the first estimate of abundance for the whole Italian wolf population in the last 40 years. Such information can be used to implement sound conservation strategies, especially in critical human-dominated landscapes, where conflicts with human activities and increasing rates of hybridization with free-ranging domestic dogs call for updated management plans.
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Context In Europe and the United States, wolf-human conflict has increased as wolf populations have recovered and recolonised human-dominated ecosystems. These conflicts may lead to negative attitudes towards wolves and often complicate wolf management. Wolf attacks on bear-hunting hounds (hereafter, hounds) are the second-most common type of depredation on domestic animals in Wisconsin, USA, and, typically, the most costly in terms of compensation per individual animal. Understanding the geospatial patterns in which these depredations occur could promote alternative hunting practices or management strategies that could reduce the number of wolf-human conflicts. Aims We compared variables differentiating between wolf attacks on hounds and non-hounds (e.g., pets), we constructed a spatial, predictive model of wolf attacks on hounds, and we explored how the landscape of risk changed over time. Methods We characterised landscape features of hound depredations using logistic regression. We applied the spatial model to a geographic information system (GIS) to display spatial patterns and to predict areas of risk for wolf attack. Key results Our model correctly classified 84% of sites of past depredations, 1999-2008, and 78% of nearby random-unaffected sites. The model correctly predicted 82% of recent (2009-11) depredation sites not used in model construction, thereby validating its predictive power. Risk of wolf attack on hounds increased with percentage area of public-access land nearby, size of the nearest wolf pack, proximity of the nearest wolf pack, and decreased with percentage of human development. National and county forest lands had significantly (P<0.001) more hound depredations than did other land-ownership types, whereas private lands had significantly fewer. Conclusions Risk of wolf attacks on hounds had distinctive temporal and spatial signatures, with peak risk occurring during the black bear hound training and hunting seasons and in areas closer to the centre of wolf pack territories, with larger wolf packs and more public access land and less developed land. Implications Our analysis can help bear hunters avoid high-risk areas, and help wildlife managers protect wildlife and recreational use of public lands, and reduce public costs of predator recovery. We present a risk-adjusted compensation equation. If wildlife managers choose, or are required, to provide compensation for hounds attacked by wolves, while hunting on public lands, we suggest that managers consider adjusting compensation payments on the basis of the relative landscape of risk.
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ISTITUTO NAZIONALE PER LA FAUNA SELVATICA " ALESSANDRO GHIGI " 52 Sommario:-Riassunto/Summary-Introduzione-Il corretto approccio metodologico in un sopralluogo per l'accertamento di un caso di predazione-Le basi biologiche e comportamentali del differenziamento tra attacco da parte di cani e di lupi-Parte sperimentale: differenziamento dei casi di predazione causati da cane o da Lupo Introduzione Materiali e Metodi Risultati Discussione-Conclusioni-Bibliografia Riassunto L'analisi dei sistemi di accertamento dei danni al bestiame da predatori attualmente in vigore in Ita-lia evidenzia come l'accertamento dei casi di pre-dazione venga effettuato in maniera empirica e senza una specifica preparazione delle figure pro-fessionali incaricate. Il fenomeno delle predazioni sul bestiame domesti-co sembra, pertanto, notevolmente sovrastimato a causa della scarsa qualità dei metodi di accerta-mento. Inoltre, anche le leggi di indennizzo attual-mente in vigore sembrano rispondere più ad esi-genze di carattere politico-sociale che gestionale. Si suggerisce pertanto l'adozione di procedure operative standard di accertamento dei casi di pre-dazione, al fine di consentire la raccolta di dati omogenei sul fenomeno e individuare, pertanto, le scelte gestionali più efficaci per l'attenuazione del conflitto predatori – zootecnia. Il problema della differenziazione fra attacchi al bestiame da cani e da lupi viene discusso sulla base delle caratteristiche biologiche e comporta-mentali dei due predatori. I risultati di una ricerca effettuata in parallelo nell'Isola d'Elba, dove gli unici predatori sono i cani, e in Abruzzo, dove sono presenti lupi e cani, confermano la possibili-tà di discriminare, con elevata probabilità di suc-cesso, l'attacco al bestiame da cani o da lupi. Summary The analysis of verification procedures of livestock depredations currently employed in Italy underlines that they are carried out in an empirical manner and that personnel charged with verification are generally not trained to perform an accurate assessment. Therefore, the extent of livestock depreda-tion in Italy caused by species of conservation value, such as wolf, and by free-roaming dogs may be highly overestimated. Also, damage compensation laws actually applied in many Italian Regions seem to account mostly for social demands of claimants than for management requirements. A practically based approach should seek to achieve the re-organisation of predation assessment methods by revision of the claim validation procedure, tackling the practical aspect of predation management on the basis of reliable data. The differentiation between dog and wolf attacks on livestock is also discussed on the basis of their biological and behavioural characteristics. The results of a research project carried out on the Island of Elba (Tuscany), where the only livestock predators are free-roaming dogs, and in the Abruzzo Region , where both wolves and dogs are present, confirm that is possible to discriminate, with a good degree of accuracy, between dog and wolf aggression on livestock. INTRODUZIONE La predazione sul bestiame allevato allo stato brado ha costituito e costituisce ancora oggi uno dei principali problemi di conservazione dei grandi predatori quali il Lupo (Canis lupus) e l'Orso (Ursus arctos), sia in Italia che in Europa. Il qua-dro attuale sullo stato della conservazione del Lupo in Italia è sintetizzato nel Piano d'Azione Na-zionale per la Conservazione del Lupo (Canis lupus) (Genovesi 2002), edito dal Ministero del
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Information on population parameters is rarely collected from carcasses. This method can be particularly useful – with limitations – when protected species are involved (e.g. the grey wolf Canis lupus in Italy). Local data on population structure, reproduction, survivorship and causes of mortality are necessary to build reliable conservation models to assess the state of a population and to predict its evolution. On the other hand, ‘best guesses’ or data from ecologically different areas have often been used to build population viability analysis and other conservation-oriented models. A sample of 154 wolf carcasses was found, collected and analysed from 1991 to 2001 in central-eastern Italy, the historic core of the wolf distribution range. Collision with a vehicle was the main cause of death in both sexes; however, road kills may be biased with a greater detectability, and we treated our data accordingly. Road kills were concentrated on the younger (≤4 years old) age classes, whereas fully adult wolves died mainly because of poaching, intraspecific strife and pathologies. Cubs and subadults (≤2 years old) showed a mortality peak in November/December, at the beginning of the dispersal period, whereas adults died mainly in January/February (mating season). The population structure of our sample of wolf carcasses appeared to be well balanced, although perinatal and cub mortality was underestimated. The sex ratio was 1:1 in the younger age classes and 1:0.7 in the older age classes. Only 20.7% of females, 2–6 years old, showed signs of reproduction; placental scar and embryo number varied from one to seven (mean, 4.4) per individual. Survivorship theoretical curves indicated a fair survival of cubs and subadults, but a steep decline as wolves approached maximum life span (9 years old). Our data and other published data on food habits and genetic features of the wolf in central-eastern Italy suggest that, despite ongoing heavy human-induced losses, this predator has fully recovered in the last 30 years from the brink of extinction.
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Mortality due to illegal killing is still today one of the main threats to wolf conservation, and an effective management of the conflict between wolf presence and husbandry is a key element for species conservation. The research was aimed at identifying the farm characteristics and the environmental factors that influence predation, and at formulating predictive models of predation risk. We collected and analysed the data on official predation events that occurred during the period 2005–2012 in an area of the northern Apennines, and on the characteristics of livestock farms recorded at the veterinary services. Furthermore, we mapped the grazing areas used by livestock farms and measured 23 variables of the pastures. Our results showed that the majority of predation events were upon cattle, and that grazing management significantly influences the number of predation events. In particular, the pastures that suffered predation were those in which births occur directly on the pasture, those that had at least one period of free grazing during the year, and cattle farms that were lacking in any preventive methods. The number of killed animals per event was higher for sheep than for cattle and goats and increased progressively during the study period. Predation risk increases if the farms practice free grazing at least for a period during the year, if they are not protected by any preventive method and if the degree of surveillance is regular or constant. The risk of predation also increases with the increasing complexity of pasture shape, the decrease in the percentage of coniferous forest and if the pasture is exposed to the north. The model of predation risk showed that 56.6% of the pastures in the study area are potentially exposed to wolf predation, and it allowed us to identify the grazing areas where it is worthwhile intervening with preventive methods.
Generalist predators are expected to shape their diets according to the local availability of prey species. In turn, the extent of consumption of a prey would be influenced by the number of alternative prey species. We have tested this prediction by considering the wild boar and the grey wolf: two widespread species whose distribution ranges overlap largely in Southern Europe, e.g. in Italy. We have reviewed 16 studies from a total of 21 study areas, to assess whether the absolute frequency of occurrence of wild boar in the wolf diet was influenced by (i) occurrence of the other ungulate species in diet and (ii) the number of available ungulate species. Wild boar turned out to be the main prey of the wolf (49% occurrence, on average), followed by roe deer (24%) and livestock (18%). Occurrence of wild boar in the wolf diet decreased with increasing usage of roe deer, livestock, and to a lower extent, chamois and red deer. The number of prey species did not influence the occurrence of wild boar in the wolf diet. The wild boar is a gregarious, noisy and often locally abundant ungulate, thus easily detectable, to a predator. In turn, the extent of predation on this ungulate may not be influenced so much by the availability of other potential prey. Heavy artificial reductions of wild boar numbers, e.g. through numerical control, may concentrate predation by wolves on alternative prey (e.g. roe deer) and/or livestock, thus increasing conflicts with human activities.
The return of the wolf in its historical range is raising social conflicts with local communities for the perceived potential threat to people safety. In this study we applied molecular methods to solve an unusual case of wolf attack towards a man in the Northern Italian Apennines. We analysed seven biological samples, collected from the clothes of the injured man, using mtDNA sequences, the Amelogenin gene, 39 unlinked autosomal and four Y-linked microsatellites. Results indicated that the aggression was conducted by a male dog and not by a wolf nor a wolf _x_ dog hybrid. Our findings were later confirmed by the victim, who confessed he had been attacked by the guard dog of a neighbour. The genetic profile of the owned dog perfectly matched with that identified from the samples previously collected. Our results prove once again that the wolf does not currently represent a risk for human safety in developed countries, whereas most animal aggressions are carried out by its domestic relative, the dog.
The conflict between wolves and dogs has been deemed as one of the most difficult specific issues in Finnish wolf policy. In this paper, we examine how this conflict materializes and discuss the role of anticipatory knowledge in enabling safe multispecies cohabitation. We have analyzed a dataset of 201 wolf–dog conflict narratives covering a time period of 26 years (1987–2013). This data consists of local newspaper articles, records from local wildlife management authorities, and e-mail correspondence from affected dog owners. Based on the analysis of this material, we conclude that preventing wolf caused damage on dogs calls for response-ability, defined as affective attuning to the presence of wolves. Such attuning allows humans to develop routines that enable them to anticipate wolf presence, for example by protecting and monitoring their dogs and by investing in effective social networking. The need to develop anticipatory knowledge and situated sensibility to the presence of the wolf necessarily leads to critical evaluation of the habits of keeping dogs. Hence, it also explains why there are no easy solutions to wolf–dog conflicts. To become attuned to the presence of wolves may sometimes require more than what humans are ready and willing to do. Thus, there seems to be affective thresholds for response-ability across the species. At the same time, however, some of the events could be avoided with fairly simple pragmatic solutions.
Scavenger-induced alteration to bone occurs while scavengers access soft tissue and during the scattering and re-scavenging of skeletal remains. Using bite mark, dimensional data to assist in the more accurate identification of a scavenger can improve interpretations of trauma and enhance search and recovery methods. This study analyzed bite marks produced on both dry and fresh surface deposited remains by wild and captive red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and Eurasian badger (Meles meles), as well as domestic dog (Canis familiaris). The bite marks produced by foxes were distinguishable from those made by badgers and dogs based on ranges of mean length and breadth of pits. The dimensional data of bite marks produced by badgers and dogs were less discernible. Bone modifications vary due to a variety of factors which must be considered, such as scavenger species-typical scavenging behavior, scavenger species' dentition, condition and deposition of remains, and environmental factors. © 2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.