The management of sledge dogs in the Antarctic

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has relied on sledge dogs as the main form of transport for field parties since its predecessor, the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), imported them in 1945, when it created a permanent presence on the continent. Over the years dogs have been used for extensive work over a very wide area. In 1975 BAS changed its policy with respect to work in the southern Antarctic Peninsula. In future seasons scientists will not winter in this area but will be flown to Adelaide Island and then into the field. They will carry out more detailed scientific work in particular areas of interest. This means that it is no longer practical to maintain huskies on base as they could not be kept fit and well disciplined during the winter for a short summer season. The scientists, similarly, could not be expected to learn to work the dogs efficiently in the time available, and the change in the nature of their work means that they will not move camp so frequently. The dogs, since they must be fed even if they are resting, would be uneconomic in such a situation. Finally, most of the work will be in areas that are thought to be safe so the dogs will not be needed to probe for crevasses. In future seasons BAS will rely on skidoos for field work (Figs 1 and 2).


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Authors: Bostelmann, R.W.

1 January, 1976
Polar Record / 18
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