U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

October 2004


Published in Canids: foxes, wolves, jackals, and dogs, ed.


We already know that the status and distribution of canid populations throughout the world is of growing concern for biologists and the public alike. Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, human persecution, decreases in prey, disease, poaching, and increased competition with other carnivores due to reduced space and habitat, have led to some canid species facing extinction, while others occupy only a fraction of their former range. While reintroductions of some species have been successful (e.g., grey wolves Canis lupus to the Northern Rockies of the U.S.), other species face an uncertain future (e.g., African wild dogs Lycaon pictus). Paramount to canid recovery, reintroduction, or management, is acquiring accurate information regarding the status of a species, or a particular population. Reliable methods that provide accurate data on the distribution, abundance, and population trend of a species are required. These parameters are also fundamental for helping to determine the conservation status of a species according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (for example, the B criterion relies on knowledge of geographic range size, where a species with a range of less than 20,000km² could qualify in one of the categories of threat). However, because many canids are secretive, nocturnal, wide ranging, in densely vegetated habitats or remote areas, or at extremely low densities, surveys of a canid species or population can be very difficult.