Abstracts Of Recently Published Papers On Hunting

In this section we will inform you periodically on interesting peer reviewed scientific papers on hunting and conservation. Usually we give you the title of the paper, the authors and an abstract, as well as a direct link to the paper and/or publisher.

Please note that the opinion expressed and the conclusions drawn in these papers do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher and editors of Conservation Frontlines.


Hunting lactating female ungulates deserves caution: the case of the chamois. 2019. Luca Corlatti, Francesco Ferretti & Sandro Lovari. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1080/03949370.2018.1561526

Abstract: Hunting lactating or non-lactating female ungulates is a debated issue because of the potential risks connected to the premature separation of kids from their mother (i.e., offspring orphaning). In many chamois populations, harvesting of lactating females is currently discouraged.  Recently, however, it has been suggested that a ‘random’ management regime, which implies harvesting of yearlings and ≥ 2 years old females – irrespective of their reproductive status, would have no effect on chamois population dynamics. In chamois, many 2-3 years old females are non-lactating: selective harvesting of non-lactating females may thus over-impact on this age class, which enjoys high potential for survival and reproductive success; conversely, random harvest is expected to relax hunting pressure on subadults, thereby favoring population demography. We argue that this conclusion deserves great caution, because of several uncertainties associated with the proposed hunting regime. For example, potential negative long-term effects could be expected on orphans if the mothers are removed during the nursing period, including reduced kids’ growth, survival and reproductive success. These effects may be expected to aggravate in hunting systems that allow chamois hunting during the period of intensive maternal care. Furthermore, removing restrictions on lactation puts females at risk of trophy hunting, i.e. females with longer horns (which are expected to be the most productive segment of the population) might be prematurely removed, possibly hampering the population performance in the long term. Investigating the potential outcomes of different harvesting regimes is important for the development of effective management strategies. However, modeling of harvesting regimes requires that all sources of uncertainty are taken into account, to obtain more generalizable recommendations. Given the current uncertainties, we suggest that selective harvesting of non-lactating females, combined with the adoption of hunting quotas for different female age classes, may effectively reduce the pressure on young females with high reproductive value, while avoiding the negative effects of trophy hunting and all the uncertainties – ethical issues included – of orphaning.


Predators and pastoralists: how anthropogenic pressures inside wildlife areas influence carnivore space use and movement behavior. 2019. Broekhuis F, Madsen E K &  Klaassen B. Animal Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12483

Abstract: Across the globe, wildlife populations and their behaviours are negatively impacted by people. Protected areas are believed to be an antidote to increasing human pressures but even they are not immune to the impact of anthropogenic activities. Areas that have been set aside for the protection of wildlife therefore warrant more attention when investigating the impact of anthropogenic pressures on wildlife. We use cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus as a case study to explore how a large carnivore responds to anthropogenic pressures inside wildlife areas. Using GPS‐collar data we investigate cheetah space use, both when moving and stationary, and movement parameters (speed and turn angles) in relation to human disturbance, distance to human settlement, livestock abundance and livestock site use inside wildlife areas. Space use was negatively influenced by human disturbance, resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation and potentially reducing landscape permeability between neighbouring wildlife areas. Cheetahs were also less likely to stop in areas where livestock numbers were high, but more likely to stop in areas that were frequently used by livestock. The latter could reflect that cheetahs are attracted to livestock however, cheetahs in the study area rarely predated on livestock. It is therefore more likely that areas that are frequently used by livestock attract wild herbivores, which in turn could influence cheetah space use. We did not find any effects of people and livestock on cheetahs’ speed and turn angles which might be related to the resolution of the data. We found that cheetahs are sensitive to human pressures and we believe that they could be an indicator species for other large carnivores facing similar challenges. We suggest that further research is needed to determine the levels of anthropogenic pressures needed to maintain ecological integrity, especially inside wildlife areas.


Genome-wide SNP analysis unveils genetic structure and phylogeographic history of snow sheep (Ovis nivicola) populations inhabiting the Verkhoyansk Mountains and Momsky Ridge (northeastern Siberia). 2018. Ecology and Evolution. 2018;8:8000–8010

Abstract: Insights into the genetic characteristics of a species provide important information for wildlife conservation programs. Here, we used the OvineSNP50 BeadChip developed for domestic sheep to examine population structure and evaluate genetic diversity of snow sheep (Ovis  nivicola) inhabiting Verkhoyansk Range and Momsky Ridge. A total of 1,121 polymorphic SNPs were used to test 80 specimens representing five populations, including four populations of the Verkhoyansk Mountain chain: Kharaulakh Ridge–Tiksi Bay (TIK, n =22), Orulgan Ridge (ORU, n =22), the central part of Verkhoyansk Range (VER, n =15), Suntar-Khayata Ridge (SKH, n =13), and Momsky Ridge (MOM, n =8). We showed that the studied populations were genetically structured according to a geographic pattern. Pairwise FST values ranged from 0.044 to 0.205. Admixture analysis identified K =2 as the most likely number of ancestral populations. A Neighbor-Net tree showed that TIK was an isolated group related to the main network through ORU. TreeMix analysis revealed that TIK and MOM originated from two different ancestral populations and detected gene flow from MOM to ORU. This was supported by the f3 statistic, which showed that ORU is an admixed population with TIK and MOM/SKH heritage. Genetic diversity in the studied groups was increasing southward. Minimum values of observed (Ho) and expected (He) heterozygosity and allelic richness (Ar) were observed in the most north-ern population—TIK, and maximum values were observed in the most southern population—SKH. Thus, our results revealed clear genetic structure in the studied populations of snow sheep and showed that TIK has a different origin from MOM, SKH, and VER even though they are conventionally considered a single subspecies known as Yakut snow sheep (Ovis nivicola lydekkeri). Most likely, TIK was an isolated group during the Late Pleistocene glaciations of Verkhoyansk Range.


Defining animal welfare standards in hunting: body mass determines thresholds for incapacitation time and flight distance. 2018. Sigbjørn Stokke, Jon M. Arnemo, Scott Brainerd, Arne Söderberg, Morten Kraabøl & Bjørnar Ytrehus. Scientific Reports. (2018) 8:13786. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-32102-0

Abstract: Shooting is an important tool for managing terrestrial wildlife populations worldwide. To date, however, there has been few quantitative methods available enabling assessment of the animal welfare outcomes of rifle hunting. We apply a variety of factors to model flight distance (distance travelled by an animal after bullet impact) and incapacitation from the moment of bullet impact. These factors include body mass, allometric and isometric scaling, comparative physiology, wound ballistics and linear kinematics. This approach provides for the first time a method for quantifying and grading the quality of shooting processes by examining only body mass and flight distance. Our model is a universally applicable tool for measuring animal welfare outcomes of shooting regimes both within and among species. For management agencies the model should be a practical tool for monitoring and evaluating animal welfare outcomes regarding shooting of mammalian populations.


Metal Deposition of Copper and Lead Bullets in Moose Harvested in Fennoscandia. 2017. Sigbjørn Stokke, Scott Brainerd & Jon M. Arnemo. Wildlife Society Bulletin. DOI: 10.1002/wsb.731

Abstract: Fragments from bullets used for moose (Alces alces) hunting contaminate meat, gut piles, and offal and expose humans and scavengers to lead and copper. We sampled bullets (n¼1,655) retrieved from harvested moose in Fennoscandia (Finland, Sweden, and Norway) to measure loss of lead and copper. Concordant questionnaires (n¼5,255) supplied ballistic information to complete this task. Hunters preferred lead-based bullets (90%) to copper bullets (10%). Three caliber classes were preferred: 7.62mm (69%), 9.3mm (12%), and 6.5mm (12%). Bullets passed completely through calves (76%) more frequently compared to yearlings (63%) or adults (47%). Metal deposition per bullet type (bonded lead core, lead core, and copper) did not vary among moose age classes (calves, yearlings, and adults). Average metal loss per bullet type was 3.0 g, 2.6 g, and 0.5 g for lead-core, bonded lead-core, and copper bullets, respectively. This corresponded to 18–26, 10–25, and 0–15% metal loss for lead-core, bonded lead-core, and copper bullets, respectively. Based on the harvest of 166,000 moose in Fennoscandia during the 2013/2014 hunting season, we estimated that lead-based bullets deposited 690 kg of lead in moose carcasses, compared with 21 kg of copper from copper bullets. Bone impact increased, whereas longer shooting distances decreased, lead loss from lead-based bullets. These factors did not influence loss of copper from copper bullets. In conclusion, a significant amount of toxic lead from lead-based bullets is deposited in the tissue of harvested moose, which may affect the health of humans and scavengers that ingest it. By switching to copper bullets, Fennoscandian hunters can eliminate a significant source of lead exposure in humans and scavengers.


A framework to measure the wildness of managed large vertebrate populations. 2019. Matthew F. Child; S.A. Jeanetta Selier; Frans G. T. Radloff; W. Andrew Taylor; Michael Hoffmann; Lizanne Nel; John Power; Coral Birss; Nicola C Okes; Michael J. Peel; David Mallon & Harriet T. Davies-Mostert. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13299

Abstract: As landscapes continue to fall under human influence through habitat loss, fragmentation, and settlement expansion, fencing is increasingly being used to mitigate anthropogenic threats or enhance the commercial value of wildlife. Subsequent intensification of management potentially erodes wildness by disembodying populations from landscape‐level processes, thereby disconnecting species from natural selection. Decision‐makers thus require tools to measure the degree to which populations of large vertebrate species within protected areas and other wildlife‐based land‐uses are self‐sustaining and free to adapt. We present a framework comprising six attributes relating to the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of vertebrates. For each attribute, we set empirical, species‐specific thresholds between five wildness states using quantifiable management interventions. The tool was piloted on six herbivore species with a range of Red List conservation statuses and commercial values using a comprehensive dataset of 205 private wildlife properties with management objectives spanning ecotourism to consumptive utilization. Wildness scores were significantly different between species, and the proportion of populations identified as wild ranged from 12% to 84%, which indicates the utility of the tool to detect site‐scale differences between populations of different species and populations of the same species under different management regimes. By quantifying wildness, this foundational framework provides practitioners with standardised measurement units that interlink biodiversity with the sustainable use of wildlife. Applications include informing species management plans at local scales; standardising the inclusion of managed populations in Red List assessments; and providing a platform for certification and regulation of wildlife‐based economies. We hope that applying this framework will assist in embedding wildness as a normative value in policy, thereby mitigating the shifting baseline of what it means to truly conserve a species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved Article impact statement: This is a regulatory tool to empirically measure the wildness of managed populations to bridge the science‐policy divide.


Animal Welfare, Social License, and Wildlife Use Industries. 2019. Jordan Hampton & Katherine Teh‐White. Journal of Wildlife Management. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21571.

Abstract: Many wildlife use industries are facing criticism from animal welfare groups. In some recent cases, opposition to contentious practices (e.g., kangaroo [Macropus spp.] harvesting) has achieved widespread community support and industries have lost market access or regulatory approval. The concept of social license to operate has become an important focus for many natural resource management fields, but there is ostensibly less awareness of its role in animal industries. To regard this contemporary threat to traditional wildlife management as more than inexplicable requires some delving into social sciences. We use the example of the declining harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) harvest in Canada to illustrate how poorly addressed animal welfare concerns can erode social license and decimate even ecologically sustainable wildlife use enterprises. We argue that other consumptive wildlife use industries, such as North American fur harvesting and kangaroo harvesting in Australia are at risk of loss of social license if animal welfare concerns are not addressed proactively and effectively. When faced with opposition from animal advocacy groups, many wildlife use industries have traditionally been reactive and have been reluctant to engage with stakeholders who possess seemingly irreconcilable differences. Instead, industries have often resorted to secrecy or deception, or have steadfastly defended their current approaches while attacking their critics. We suggest that a more effective approach would be for industries to proactively engage with stakeholders, establish a shared vision for how their industry should operate, and support this vision by transparently monitoring animal welfare outcomes. Proactive management of community expectations surrounding animal welfare is essential for the maintenance of social license for wildlife use enterprises.

Why We Must Question the Militarisation of Conservation. 2019. Rosaleen Duffy, Francis Massé, Emile Smidt, Esther Marijnen, Bram Büscher, Judith Verweijen, Maano Ramutsindela, Trishant Simlai, Laure Joanny & Elizabeth Lunstrum. Biological Conservation 232, 66-73.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.013

Abstract: Concerns about poaching and trafficking have led conservationists to seek urgent responses to tackle the impact on wildlife. One possible solution is the militarisation of conservation, which holds potentially far-reaching consequences. It is important to engage critically with the militarisation of conservation, including identifying and reflecting on the problems it produces for wildlife, for people living with wildlife and for those tasked with implementing militarised strategies. This Perspectives piece is a first step towards synthesising the main themes in emerging critiques of militarised conservation. We identify five major themes: first, the importance of understanding how poaching is defined; second, understanding the ways that local communities experience militarised conservation; third, the experiences of rangers; fourth, how the militarisation of conservation can contribute to violence where conservation operates in the context of armed conflict; and finally how it fits in with and reflects wider political economic dynamics. Ultimately, we suggest that failure to engage more critically with militarisation risks making things worse for the people involved and lead to poor conservation outcomes in the long run.


Investigating the effects of community-based conservation on attitudes towards wildlife in Namibia. 2019. Nuria Störmer, Chris Weaver, Greg Stuart-Hill, Richard W. Diggle & Robin Naidoo. Biological Conservation 233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.02.033

Abstract: Community-based natural resource management programs can recover wildlife and deliver tangible benefits such as financial gains to local communities. Less-tangible impacts like changes in attitudes towards wildlife are not as well-understood, yet in the long-term, positive attitudes may be an important determinant of sustainability in such programs. We investigated the connection between actual and perceived benefits of a community-based conservation program in Namibia and residents’ attitudes towards wildlife. We administered a questionnaire with a specific focus on attitudes to >400 community members across 18 communal conservancies that generated either (i) high benefits from tourism, (ii) high benefits from hunting, or (iii) low/no benefits. We used an empirical modelling approach that isolated the impact of conservancy-level benefits, while controlling for a variety of factors that can also influence attitudes towards wildlife. Using an information theoretic and model-averaging approach, we show that all else equal, respondents living in conservancies generating high benefits from hunting had more favourable attitudes towards wildlife than those living in conservancies generating low benefits (as expected), but also as compared to those living in conservancies generating high benefits from tourism. A variety of individual-level characteristics, such as the costs and benefits (both tangible and intangible) that respondents have personally experienced from wildlife, as well as demographic factors, were also important in conditioning attitudes. Our results demonstrate that community-based conservation programs can positively impact attitudes towards wildlife, but that this is conditioned by the type and magnitude of benefits and costs that individuals experience from wildlife, all of which should be assessed in order to most effectively support such programs.