CHANGE IN HUNTING ACTIVITY AND HUNTERS' PERCEPTIONS FOLLOWING THE INTRODUCTION OF SELECTIVE HARVEST IN QUÉBEC
Between 1994 and 1997, we surveyed moose hunters in Québec to assess the social impacts of the 1994-1998 moose management plan. The number of hunters that stopped hunting and the number of hunting days practiced were estimated as indices of hunting activity changes, while hunters’ opinions about populations abundance and the number of moose seen and killed per 100 hunting days were monitored as indices of population change as perceived by hunters. The number of moose found dead per 100 hunting days was used to assess the proportion of animals accidentally or illegally killed. Knowledge and perception of the regulation were measured to evaluate the acceptance of the selective harvest program by hunters. Between 3,500 and 7,000 questionnaires were sent each year to hunters randomly chosen in 5 hunting zones where different harvesting scenarios were applied (limited number of cow permits, no cow harvest for 5 years, cows allowed every 2 years, no cows for 2 years and limited number of cow permits thereafter, and non-selective harvest) to determine their relative efficiency. Over 13% of the hunters quit hunting each year but were replaced by a similar number that started or resumed hunting. The number of hunting days per hunter did not vary significantly between 1994 and 1997, but 22 – 38% of the hunters indicated they hunted for a longer period in 1994 than in 1993 to increase opportunities to harvest a moose under the selective harvest program. An increasing number of hunters thought that moose populations were growing. The number of moose seen per 100 hunting days and the hunting success increased in some hunting zones. In zones where no cow harvest was allowed, hunters indicated that a large number of dead moose were left in the forest; this figure is likely voluntarily overestimated by hunters considering their proportion in relation to the legal harvest, the absence of a difference between the sexes of moose that were presumably found dead, and the low illegal harvest reported by wildlife officers. Hunters correctly understood the regulation of their hunting zone, approved its objectives, and still considered that the regulation allowed for an enjoyable hunting experience. Overall, hunters seemed satisfied with the 1994-1998 management plan despite the considerable changes brought about by the selective harvest program. This emphasizes the need for their participation in elaboration hunting strategies. Among the different hunting scenarios, the harvest of cows evert 2 years seemed the most acceptable to hunters because it is easy to manage (no computer draw) and understand, is fair for all hunters, and permits a moderate population increase.
How to Cite
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.