, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 48-59
Date: 10 Feb 2005

The role of game management in wildlife populations: uncertainty analysis of expert knowledge

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Abstract

Uncertainties about future states of wildlife populations make it difficult to pre-adapt to possible threats and ensure sustainability of resources and harvesting over the long term. This uncertainty is partly due to the unknown impact and future states of many factors that explain population sizes and variation. In this paper, the effect of local game management activities on the uncertainty of future population sizes of groups of Finnish wildlife species (ungulates, forest grouse, large predators, small predators and mountain hare) was analysed using expert knowledge and the Bayesian belief networks (BBNs) modelling techniques. As a result, the current knowledge and agreement of the relationships between wildlife population sizes and the game management activities explaining their variation as well as trends are evaluated. Information given to hunters and the number of hunters were seen as the most effective factors for the management of game populations. However, there were great uncertainties in the expectations regarding future trends in the management activities, especially in feeding, and there was disagreement in the direction of the trend in the length of the hunting season. The trends in the size of forest grouse populations were viewed as the most uncertain trend among species groups. At the same time, forest grouse were seen as the most regulated species group by local game management. Among interest variables, experts were very uncertain and they disagreed about the direction of the trend in the recreational value of hunting.