- Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Red deer Cervus elaphus is a highly appreciated and intensively managed game species throughout Europe. A common management objective is a sustainable harvest of large trophies. In southern Sweden, management has mainly aimed at preserving the nominate subspecies C. elaphus elaphus. Seasonal migration of red deer males may, however, complicate both harvest management as well as conservation efforts. I used individually identified male red deer in southern Sweden to observe distance travelled from rutting areas to areas used by males in summer and winter. Adult males were identified by antler shape and photo-documented during rut. Photos from the rut were compared to trophies of deer harvested or found dead, to found cast antlers and to stags photographed during summer. From 1969 to 2007, a distance between rutting ground and summer/winter quarters was established for 96 identified stags. An average distance of 14 km and a maximum distance of 47 km were recorded between rut and summer/winter observations. The seasonal migration of males increases the risk of overexploitation of males with harvest in both rutting areas and wintering areas. Harvest management and conservation efforts may fail if males seasonally migrate outside the management unit. The results suggest that seasonal migration must be considered in harvest management and conservation and that there is a need for a regulation of male harvest. Furthermore, the study stresses that the success in deer management of single hunting units, may be largely dependent on the harvest policies in the near surroundings as well as in areas tenths of kilometres away, suggesting that a successful management must rely on co-operation and co-ordination on a landscape scale.
breeding migration; deer harvest; deer management; sexual segregation; ungulate conservation
European Journal of Wildlife Research
2008, Volume: 54, number: 2, pages: 327-333
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use