THE IMPACT OF TWO LARGE FOREST FIRES ON MOOSE (ALCES ALCES) HARVESTING
After the large forest fires on the Québec Côte-Nord in the summer of 1991, a study was conducted to determine the impact on the moose harvest, and the behavior and perception of moose hunters. Two areas were studied, corresponding to the fires of Forestville and of Betsiamites, where we compared the harvest before (1986 to 1990) and after the fires (1991 and 1992). Questionnaires (n = 522) were sent to hunters who had hunted in these areas between 1988 and 1992. In the fall of 1991, the harvest was reduced by up to 50% in the burned zones and had increased in the zone which bordered on the fires. The composition of the harvest did not seem to change. In 1991, some hunters decided not to hunt or to distance themselves from the burned zones. This resulted in a marked decrease in the use of the burned zones in 1991. Changes in hunters’ habits may explain the observed changes in the harvest. An important factor in hunters’ decisions was hunting lodges damaged or destroyed by the fires. In 1992, the utilization and the harvest of burned zones was starting to reestablish itself to the levels recorded prior to the fires. Following the fires hunters did not notice any important variations in the abundance of moose, but they did notice a reduced presence of other hunters in the burned zones. Large forest fires nay have a very short term impact (1 year) on the moose harvest and a short term (2 years) impact on the behavior and perception of hunters.
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