Agriculture ministry urges travellers to avoid taking dogs up to the highlands

Dogs: Tour groups and porters travelling to the highlands must seek the permission of the agriculture ministry or other concerned agencies if they intend to take along dogs, according to a notification the ministry issued recently.

This is because dogs following porters and tour groups form packs once they  remain in the highlands and attack wild and domestic animals when food is scarce.

In the notification issued on January 12, it is stated that there were reported incidences of dogs following porters and tour groups and remaining behind in the highlands.

“Such incidences in the past lead to problems like zoonotic diseases to humans by dog bites, gid diseases in the yaks, depredation of young and weak yaks, threat to dilution and erosion of the Bhutanese Mastiff dogs,” the notification states.

Wildlife conservation division’s chief forest officer, Sonam Wangchuk, said feral dogs are posing serious threats to wild animals, as they hunt endangered animals like blue sheep and musk deer.

He also added that most of the animals foresters rescue are attacked by feral and stray dogs.

Department of Livestock’s chief veterinary officer for the animal health division, Dr Karma Rinzin, explained that dogs are intermediate hosts for the gid parasites and the department is focused on controlling gid diseases by deworming. “The problem with feral dogs is that we cannot deworm them.”

He also said that although no study has been conducted to substantiate the claim, there are dangers that the feral dogs might spread diseases to other wild animals.

The notification states that people should attend to their personal dogs and  avoid taking dogs to the highlands or government reserve forests. “Defaulters, if found in violation of this notification will be penalised as per the relevant laws under the ministry.”

Forest officials said that a new clause on stray dogs will be added in the Forest and Nature Conservation Rules (FNCR), which will be amended next week.

An official said that section 393 of Chapter 12 of the FNCR will reflect prohibited and restricted activity in state reserved forest land, which will prohibit taking of stray dogs in such protected areas. “Any violation shall be liable for a fine and compensation of Nu 500. The dogs will be seized.”

Tashi Dema