EARLY WINTER SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF HUNTED VS UNHUNTED MOOSE POPULATIONS IN N. CENTRAL ONTARIO
Early winter social structure of moose (Alces alces) in hunted and unhunted populations are compared from 30 and 27 aerial surveys, conducted in northcentral Ontario between 1975 and 1993 respectively. All animal aggregates (range 1-16, n= 5,394) are classified into 8 social classes including single males, multiple males, single females, multiple females, mixed male/female groups, females with calves, lone calves, and unsexed adult groups. Bulls were further designated into 4 groups on the basis of antler shape and size. In hunted populations, the proportion of single males and females increased while multiple male and mixed male/female groups declined from December through February. In unhunted populations, multiple males and females increased, while mixed male/female and female/calf groups decreased from December through January. Mean group sized in hunted populations were similar from December through February (2.05, 1.93, 1.79 respectively P > 0.10) and also remained similar in unhunted populations during December and January (2.20 vs 2.00 P > 0.10). The mean aggregate size of all bulls in four antler classes and the time of antler casting were similar for both hunted and unhunted populations. However, December aggregates > 6 in unhunted populations were nearly twice as frequent (P < 0.05) as in hunted populations while those > 10 in were 8 times more frequent. The majority of these large December aggregates were composed of both sexes with bulls dominating. Observed moose densities were 5 to 6 times higher in unhunted than in hunted populations.
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