MOOSE (ALCES ALCES) RUTTING PERIOD VARIATIONS
Variations in the timing of mating periods have been observed in many species of wild ungulates. We examined if this reproductive variation, suggested by some authors for moose, could be formally demonstrated. Because it is difficult to get direct evidence of moose mating, we used a series of variables that have the potential to predict the timing of the mating period: vulnerability to hunting (moose killed per party of hunters), visibility (number of moose seen per hunter group) and vocalization rate (based on 3200 questionnaires). This information was collected from 12 Québec (Canada) wildlife reserves over a 6- to 10-year period for the vulnerability to hunting and over 2 years for the other two indicators. To validate these indicators, vaginal and uterine smears of females harvested were analyzed for the presence of spermatozoids. Our results indicate that hunters’ success rate and moose vocalization rate can adequately identify pre-copulation period during which animals actively search for a mate. This search stage precedes copulation by a few days. Based on harvest success and vocalization rate it appears that there is little geographical variation in the timing of rutting periods. In all sampled populations, these variables peaked between September 20 and 30. Furthermore, there is no significant correlation between the timing of rutting and various environmental variables. However, spontaneous calls were significantly correlated with longitude suggesting that the mating period begins a few days later in the eastern part of the province. If the management objective is to minimize the impact of hunting on moose populations, hunting activities should be avoided until the second week of October. This would minimize male hunting vulnerability and would allow female pregnancy before harvest.
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.