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article imageDisruption Is More Than Just A Walk In The Park (Especially If You Have A Dog)

By Michelle Duffy     Sep 5, 2007 in Environment
Strolling around the park in the afternoon with your dog seems like the most environmentally friendly thing to do, or is it? Not according to our feathered friends in the sky
An Australian team have discovered that the simple exercise of taking the dog for a walk is actually having a serious impact on bird life.
It is thought that where dog-walking appears to be the most common, bird numbers have dropped by a staggering 41%. It's certainly something to get in a flap about.
Our friends who have been frantically scribbling their findings for the Royal Society journal of Biology Letters, have feared that this dramatic drop in bird numbers in particular areas are simply down to birds finding dogs a threat.
That sort of stumps the Sylvester and Tweety Pie theory.
So the researchers are asking us to think about where we walk our dogs as the impact of whoofers appears to be making the birds fly off to other places where they could be in even more danger or even worse, find themselves in a place were there is no food or shelter. Thus having a knock on effect to breeding and numbers of particular birds as a whole.
The area focused on primarily for the study was north of Sydney where the woodland trails are popular and vast. An area loved by both dog walkers and resident birds.
The study showed that even when dogs are walked over a certain distance, (280m) paths on a lead, birds are still wary and leave the skies. Researchers watched and listened out for birds around the area seconds after a dog had gone passed with it's owner. A control for the test was recorded when there were no dogs around for some time.
Leading experts and campaigners at Birdlife International are pleading with us to think twice about our dog walking habits. According to the head author of the paper released by New South Wales University, there is a distinct link between the lowered species of birds in certain areas. Peter Banks told local reporters,
"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."
He went on,
"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."
Other sites were also used in the study and all showed that generally, birds do not like dogs being around. Perhaps another study should be taken with cats on leads.
However, it also appears that birds simply don't like anyone being around. As many walkers without dogs had gone the same route, they seemed not to be liked either.
The study is calling for the idea of a ban of dogs from conservation sites. As the presence of our canine friend simply does not go down well with everyone in the neighborhood.
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