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Research article2010Peer reviewedOpen access

Can supplementary feeding be used to redistribute moose Alces alces?

Sahlsten, Jonas; Bunnefeld, Nils; Månsson, Johan; Ericsson, Göran; Bergström, Roger; Dettki, Holger


Foraging patterns, behaviour and the distribution of animals are affected by the availability and distribution of food in the landscape. Increasing numbers of ungulates may also be in conflict with agriculture, timber, infrastructure and conservation interests. Understanding foraging habits of ungulates and how these are affected by a change in forage availability or composition are, therefore, issues of major importance both from ecological and management perspectives. Supplementary feeding (i.e. artificial supply of food) is being used to improve local habitat, and thereby affecting ungulate movements, habitat choice and migration patterns. We experimentally tested the predictions that supplementary feeding redistributes moose Alces alces during two different migration phases (early, i.e. during the onset of migration and late, i.e. in the wintering areas). We used individually marked moose and pellet group counts to investigate the effect of supplementary feeding both at the individual and population level. We monitored 30 moose with GPS-collars before, during and after the supplementary feeding experiment, corresponding to 8-10% of the moose population in two different valleys in Northern Scandinavia. During early migration, moose ignored supplementary feeding sites even though migration routes were close to the sites. At the end of the migration route, supplementary feeding affected moose movement, distribution and behaviour. In conclusion, we suggest that there is a clear difference in response to supplementary feeding by moose due to the phase of migration. We conclude that supplementary feeding can be used under certain conditions to redistribute moose in relation to browsing, or to traffic, preferably at the end-point of migration.


Alces alces; forage; GPS-collars; habitat improvement; management tool; migration; moose; pellet counts; ungulates

Published in

Wildlife Biology
2010, Volume: 16, number: 1, pages: 85-92