In Jeju Island’s less populated areas on the midslope of Hallasan, around 2,000 wild dogs are believed to be living in packs for hunting and breeding, a recent study revealed.
According to Jeju National University’s Wildlife Rescue Center, which led the research, the population of wild dogs in the midsection of the mountain, lying between 300 meters and 600 meters above sea level, is estimated to be somewhere between 1,626 and 2,168.
The researchers explained they are domestic dogs abandoned by owners and their offspring, now living in the wild without human care or control.
“They have become the apex predator in the area,” the researchers noted.
The study, commissioned by the island province’s authorities, is the first of its kind in South Korea to look into the population of free-range dogs, a growing problem as more people adopt companion dogs and abandon them.
Attacks by stray or wild dogs on residents and livestock have been a constant headache for the island’s authorities.
In one such case, four calves were killed at a cattle farm by a pack of six dogs in Hallim, Jeju City, in June last year.
In 2020, the island had nine reports involving a total of 120 chickens, nine cows and one foal killed in dog attacks. The actual damages, however, are believed to be far greater, as residents seldom report minor damages. Although rare, there are cases in which dogs have attacked residents.
Authorities on Jeju Island said they plan to draw up measures based on the findings.
“We will come up with appropriate measures in order to more safely and efficiently manage the wild dog issue,” said Hong Chung-ho, an official of the provincial government.