Humans and dogs initiate measurable escape responses in wild animals including flight initiation distance (FID), with potentially negative consequences. Golden marmots are important prey for endangered carnivores and are subject to human persecution including via marmot baiting with dogs. We quantified FID at four marmot colonies (72 individuals) in the Karakoram range, Pakistan in response to approach by a pedestrian with a leashed dog versus approach by a pedestrian alone (i.e., a control). Additionally, we related FID to background variables of human activity, namely proximity to roads, and presence of other pedestrians in the vicinity of study sites during sampling. We also controlled for potential environmental and social covariates (e.g., group size, age and sex, and colony substrate). Dogs initiated greater FID than pedestrians alone, and there was evidence that roads increased FID. However, these effects were weaker than those of marmot age and colony substrate. FID was greater at lower elevations, but this may reflect the clustering in these zones of human settlements and livestock pasture. Further work is needed elucidate the importance of colony substrate (linked to ease of human persecution), the effect of settlements and pasture, and the impact of increased FID on marmot fitness.
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