New publication: Timing of the hunting season as a tool to redistribute harvest of migratory deer across the landscape
Harvesting by humans is the primary mechanism in regulation of many ungulate populations. Many harvested ungulate populations are migratory and fall migration often overlaps with hunting season. A main challenge in such systems is that ungulates often inflict damage on farmland and forest in the summer ranges, but that they migrate from these areas before they can be harvested, resulting in uneven distribution of damage and revenue from hunting across landowners. While an increase in annual quotas on summer ranges cannot compensate for this problem, advancement in hunting season potentially could. In Norway, hunting season of red deer Cervus elaphus was advanced from the 10th to 1st of September with the aim of increasing the harvest in inland summer ranges. We found that the peak in harvest occurred during the first 10 days of hunting both before and after advancement of hunting season, implying that hunters responded to the advanced season. The harvest increased in inland local management units by 17 %, closely matching the effect size expected from known migration patterns. Along the coast, harvest decreased by 8 % in the winter ranges along the coast, reinforcing the redistribution of harvest offtake along the migration gradient. Although hunting season of large ungulates is constrained by the female breeding cycle, especially the time period of dependent offspring, we suggest that adjustment of hunting season is an underused tool in redistribution of harvest of migratory deer populations.
June 2016, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 315-323
First online: 23 March 2016