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      The gradual vocal responses to human-provoked discomfort in farmed silver foxes.

      Acta Ethologica

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          Abstract

          Vocal indicators of welfare have proven their use for many farmed and zoo animals and may be applied to farmed silver foxes as these animals display high vocal activity toward humans. Farmed silver foxes were selected mainly for fur, size, and litter sizes, but not for attitudes to people, so they are fearful of humans and have short-term welfare problems in their proximity. With a human approach test, we designed here the steady increase and decrease of fox-human distance and registered vocal responses of 25 farmed silver foxes. We analyzed the features of vocalizations produced by the foxes at different fox-human distances, assuming that changes in vocal responses reflect the degrees of human-related discomfort. For revealing the discomfort-related vocal traits in farmed silver foxes, we proposed and tested the algorithm of "joint calls," equally applicable for analysis of all calls independently on their structure, either tonal or noisy. We discuss that the increase in proportion of time spent vocalizing and the shift of call energy toward higher frequencies may be integral vocal characteristics of short-term welfare problems in farmed silver foxes and probably in other captive mammals.

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          3409671
          22865950

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