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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Response of Moose Hunters to Predation following Wolf Return in Sweden

Wikenros, Camilla; Sand, Håkan; Bergström, Roger; Liberg, Olof; Chapron, Guillaume

Abstract

BackgroundPredation and hunter harvest constitute the main mortality factors affecting the size and dynamics of many exploited populations. The re-colonization by wolves (Canis lupus) of the Scandinavian Peninsula may therefore substantially reduce hunter harvest of moose (Alces alces), the main prey of wolves.Methodology/Principal findingsWe examined possible effects of wolf presence on hunter harvest in areas where we had data before and after wolf establishment (n = 25), and in additional areas that had been continuously exposed to wolf predation during at least ten years (n = 43). There was a general reduction in the total number of moose harvested (n = 31,827) during the ten year study period in all areas irrespective of presence of wolves or not. However, the reduction in hunter harvest was stronger within wolf territories compared to control areas without wolves. The reduction in harvest was larger in small (500-800 km(2)) compared to large (1,200-1,800 km(2)) wolf territories. In areas with newly established wolf territories moose management appeared to be adaptive with regard to both managers (hunting quotas) and to hunters (actual harvest). In these areas an instant reduction in moose harvest over-compensated the estimated number of moose killed annually by wolves and the composition of the hunted animals changed towards a lower proportion of adult females.Conclusions/SignificanceWe show that the re-colonization of wolves may result in an almost instant functional response by another large predator-humans-that reduced the potential for a direct numerical effect on the density of wolves' main prey, the moose. Because most of the worlds' habitat that will be available for future colonization by large predators are likely to be strongly influenced by humans, human behavioural responses may constitute a key trait that govern the impact of large predators on their prey.

Published in

PLoS ONE
2015, volume: 10, number: 4, article number: e0119957
Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Skogforsk
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Zoology
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119957

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/69903