Why Dogs Are Banned in Antarctica?

John | 20 - 05 - 2020
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Dogs are banned in Antarctica due to the fears that they might transmit contagious and serious viral illnesses (Canine distemper). The disease affects dogs and certain wildlife species with no known cure. The phocine virus belongs to the Morbillivirus class of viruses that causes seal distemper.

Dogs in Antarctica and Expedition of South Pole

Without the Sled dogs in Antarctica, the expedition to the south pole may not have been possible. Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer of polar regions led his expedition to the South Pole in 1911. Using skis and sled dogs for transportation, Amundsen tried to explore the South Pole.

Removal of Dogs in Antarctica

According to Annex II to the Environmental Protocol (Conservation of Antarctica Fauna and Flora), banned dogs in Antarctica in April 1994. The ban was implemented due to diseases such as canine distemper. They feared it would be transferred to seals, break and disturb the wildlife species. The ban of dogs in Antarctica was implemented to strictly control non-native species but at the same time allow huskies to be bred and used in Antarctica.

1. What Percentage of Antarctica Is Not Covered by Ice?
  • A. 2 percent
  • B. 4 percent
  • C. 6 percent
  • D. 8 percent

Presence of Dogs during the “Heroic Age” Expeditions

Norwegian explorer Amundsen and his team were the first to reach the South Pole. Norwegians were good and experienced in handling dogs which were the main reason they were able to reach the South Pole before Scott and his team. Since those days Dogs were used extensively for polar travel. Though dogs were slower, they were safer than other means of transport. BAS used Sledge dogs in Antarctica from 1945. The breeding of dogs was strictly maintained. Dogs in Antarctica were exchanged between the Argentinian base to maintain genetic diversity. At British stations, dogs were fed on seal meat. Dogs in Antarctica were gradually replaced by mechanized transport during the 60s and 70s. Later, Skidoos became the main vehicle.

Dogs in Antarctica during the 1980s and 1990s

A small number of dogs were kept at Rothera Research Station for recreational purposes. Later they were removed in February 1994.

British Antarctic Husky Dogs – The End of an Era

Special husky kennels were built for the rescued dogs. The rescued dogs from Antarctica spent several weeks adapting to the warmer climate, new surroundings, and experiencing the grass and kids for the first time. They flew to the UK and became media stars in all the newspapers. Once their quarantine was complete, they were taken to Canada. Few dogs died within the first year due to infection and disease. The rest of the dogs died in 2001 with no possibility to breed.

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