, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 255-265
Date: 06 Dec 2008

The non-impact of hunting on moose Alces alces movement, diurnal activity, and activity range

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Abstract

Previous studies on moose Alces alces have suggested that interactions with humans may trigger anti-predator behaviors and generate a demographical cost. Therefore, we hypothesized that disturbances from small and big game hunting may have negative effects on moose movements, diurnal activity, and activity range. Using location data from 64 moose equipped with GPS collars from three populations (Low Alpine, Inland, Coastal) with different temporal human presence and spatial accessibility, we evaluated the impact of hunting on moose activity rhythms. On average, female moose in the low human population density (Low Alpine) area (<0.5/km2) had significantly lower movement rates during moose hunting season, but variation in movement rates among individuals were higher compared with female moose in regions with denser human populations (6–24/km2). We found no evidence that reproductive status influenced female moose sensitivity to disturbance. As expected, females used smaller activity ranges and were less active nocturnally than males. The high within-group variation suggests that current hunting disturbance levels do not alter moose population behavior in general. Our data indicate that alterations in movement were related to rutting activity, not human disturbance induced by hunting. In line with behavioral theory, our study suggests that some individuals were more sensitive to hunting disturbance than the general population. Our work suggests that individual moose may perceive human predation risk to be similar to other predation risks.

Communicated by W. Lutz