MOOSE HUNTERS' PERCEPTIONS OF FOREST HARVESTING
Ecosystem management takes into account all components of ecosystems, including people. In this context, an improved knowledge of moose (Alces alces) hunters' preferences and perceptions is a prerequisite to the implementation of ecosystem management in the boreal forest. In Québec, they are one of the most important and one of the most influential groups of outdoor recreationists. In an area subject to intensive forest harvesting in Northwestern Québec, >90% of hunters interviewed (n = 188) identified camaraderie, presence of a natural environment, and high moose density as the most important criteria in determining the location of hunting areas. Over 60% of hunters though that forest harvesting systems used within their hunting areas were inappropriate. Hunters wanted restrictions on size of cutovers, increased proportion of residual forest, adaptation of cutovers into landscape features, reduction in woody debris, and increased width of forested buffer strips along lakes, watercourses, and around hunting camps. Few differences were noted between hunters with or without cuts within their hunting areas or between hunters in vehicles and those who hunted from camps, suggesting that hunters' perceptions were also influenced by sociological parameters external to the hunting experience. Satisfaction with respect to the hunting experience depended upon the number of moose seen and killed, age of hunters, and presence of cuts within the hunting areas. These results are interpreted in the context of forest ecosystem management.
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