European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 153–163 | Cite as

Patterns of hunting mortality in Norwegian moose (Alces alces) populations

  • Erlend B. NilsenEmail author
  • Erling J Solberg
Original Paper


We used a simple life table approach to examine the age-specific patterns of harvest mortality in eight Norwegian moose populations during the last 15 years and tried to determine if the observed patterns were caused by hunter selectivity. The general opinion among local managers is that hunters prefer to shoot female moose not in company with calves to keep a high number of reproductive females in the population (and because of the emotional stress involved in leaving the calf/calves without a mother), and relatively large males because of the higher return with respect to meat and trophy. In support of the former view, we found the harvest mortality of adult females to be higher among pre-prime (1–3 years old) than prime-aged age classes (4–7 years old). This is probably because prime-aged females are more fecund and, therefore, more likely to be in company with one or two calves during the hunting season. As the season progressed, however, the selection pressure on barren females decreased, probably due to more productive females becoming ‘legal’ prey as their calf/calves were harvested. In males, we did not find any evidence of strong age-specific hunter selectivity, despite strong age-dependent variation in body mass and antler size. We suggest that this was due to the current strongly female-biased sex ratio in most Norwegian moose populations, which leaves the hunters with few opportunities to be selective within a relatively short and intensive hunting season. The management implications of these findings and to what extent the results are likely to affect the future evolution of life histories in Norwegian moose populations are discussed.


Hunter selectivity Life table analysis Moose Mortality 



We would like to thank Jos Milner, Nils Chr. Stenseth, Anne Loison and two anonymous referees for useful comments on the manuscript. EBN was funded by a grant from Norwegian Research Council (NFR proj. nr 156367/530).

Supplementary material

10344_2005_23_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (219 kb)
(PDF 224 kb)


  1. Boer AH (1988) Mortality rates of moose in New Brunswick—a life table analysis. J Wildl Manage 52:21–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information–theoretic approach. Springer, New York Berlin HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  3. Bronikowski AM, Clark ME, Rodd FH, Reznick DN (2002) Population-dynamic consequences of predator-induced life-history variation in the guppy (Poecilia reticulate). Ecology 83:2194–2204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Case TJ (2000) An illustrated guide to theoretical ecology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Caughley G (1977) Analysis of vertebrate populations. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Chamberlain MJ, Leopold BD, Burger LW, Plowman BW, Conner LM (1999) Survival and cause-specific mortality of adult bobcats in central Mississippi. J Wildl Manage 63:613–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coltman DW, O’Donoughue P, Jorgenson JT, Hogg JT, Strobeck C, Festa-Bianchet M (2003) Undesirable evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting. Nature 426:655–658CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Coulson T, Guinness F, Pemberton J, Clutton-Brock T (2004) The demographic consequences of releasing a population of red deer from culling. Ecology 85:411–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Courtois R, Labonte J, Ouellet JP (1998) Movements and location of home range of moose, Alces alces, in eastern Quebec. Can Field Nat 112:602–610Google Scholar
  10. Crete M, Taylor RJ, Jordan PA (1981) Optimization of moose harvest in southwestern Quebec. J Wildl Manage 45:598–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ericsson G (2001) Reversed cost of reproduction in moose Alces alces through human harvest. Alces 37:61–69Google Scholar
  12. Ericsson G, Wallin K (1999) Hunter observations as an index of moose Alces alces population parameters. Wildlife Biol 5:177–185Google Scholar
  13. Ericsson G, Wallin K (2001) Age-specific moose (Alces alces) mortality in a predator-free environment: evidence for senescence in females. Ecoscience 8:157–163Google Scholar
  14. Ericsson G, Boman M, Mattsson L (2000) Selective versus random moose harvesting: does it pay to be a prudent predator? J Bioecon 2:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ericsson G, Wallin K, Ball JP, Broberg M (2001) Age-related reproductive effort and senescence in free-ranging moose, Alces alces. Ecology 82:1613–1620Google Scholar
  16. Ernande B, Dieckmann U, Heino M (2004) Adaptive changes in harvested populations: plasticity and evolution of age and size at maturation. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 271:415–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ferguson (2002) Using survivorship curves to estimate age at first reproduction in moose Alces alces. Wildlife Biol 8:129–136Google Scholar
  18. Ginsberg JR, Milner-Gulland EJ (1994) Sex-biased harvesting and population-dynamics in ungulates—implications for conservation and sustainable use. Conserv Biol 8:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haagenrud H (1978) Layers of secondary dentine in incisors as age criteria in moose (Alces alces). J Mammal 59:857–858PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hanks J (1981) Characterization of population condition. In: Fowler CW, Smith TD (eds) Dynamics of large mammal populations. Wiley, New York, pp 47–73Google Scholar
  21. Harris RB, Wall WA, Allendorf FW (2002) Genetic consequences of hunting: what do we know and what should we do? Wildl Soc Bull 30:634–643Google Scholar
  22. Koivula M, Koskela E, Mappes T, Oksanen TA (2003) Cost of reproduction in the wild: manipulation of reproductive effort in the bank vole. Ecology 84:398–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krebs CJ (1999) Ecological methodology. Addison-Wesley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Langvatn R (1992) Analysis of ovaries in studies of reproduction in red deer (Cervus elaphus): applications and limitations. Rangifer 12:67–91Google Scholar
  25. Langvatn R, Bakke O, Engen S (1994) Retrospective studies of red deer reproduction using regressing luteal structures. J Wildl Manage 58:654–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lavsund S, Nygren T, Solberg EJ (2003) Status of moose populations and challenges in moose management in Fennoscandia. Alces 39:109–130Google Scholar
  27. Noyce KV, Garshelis DL, Coy PL (2001) Differential vulnerability of black bears to trap and camera sampling and resulting biases in mark–recapture estimates. URSUS 12:211–226Google Scholar
  28. Olsen EM, Heino M, Lilly GR, Morgan MJ, Brattey J, Ernande B, Dieckmann U (2004) Maturation trends indicative of rapid evolution preceded the collapse of northern cod. Nature 428:932–935CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Palkovacs EP (2003) Explaining adaptive shifts in body size on islands: a life history approach. Oikos 103:37–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Peterson RL (1955) North American moose. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  31. Reznick DN, Ghalambor CK (2005) Can commercial fishing cause evolution? Answers from guppies (Poecilia reticulate). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 62:791–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sand H (1996) Life history patterns in female moose (Alces alces): the relationship between age, body size, fecundity and environmental conditions. Oecologia 106:212–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sand H (1998) Costs of reproduction in female moose (Alces alces) as measured by means of phenotypic correlations. Can J Zool 76:187–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sibly RM, Barker D, Denham MC, Hone J, Page M (2005) On the regulation of populations of mammals, birds, fish and insects. Science 309:607–610CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Solberg EJ, Sæther B-E (1994) Male traits as life-history variables—Annual variation in body-mass and antler size in moose (Alces alces). J Mammal 75:1069–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Solberg EJ, Sæther B-E (1999) Hunter observations of moose Alces alces as a management tool. Wildlife Biol 5:107–117Google Scholar
  37. Solberg EJ, Heim M, Sæther B-E, Holmstrøm F (1997) Oppsummering overvåkningsprogram for hjortevilt-Elg. NINA Fagrapp 30:1–68 (in Norwegian with English summary)Google Scholar
  38. Solberg EJ, Sæther B-E, Strand O, Loison A (1999) Dynamics of a harvested moose population in a variable environment. J Anim Ecol 68:186–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Solberg EJ, Loison A, Sæther B-E, Strand O (2000) Age-specific harvest mortality in a Norwegian moose Alces alces population. Wildlife Biol 6:41–52Google Scholar
  40. Solberg EJ, Loison A, Ringsby TH, Sæther B-E, Heim M (2002) Biased adult sex ratio can affect fecundity in primiparous moose Alces alces. Wildlife Biol 8:117–128Google Scholar
  41. Solberg EJ, Loison A, Gaillard JM, Heim M (2004) Lasting effects of conditions at birth on moose body mass. Ecography 27:677–687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Solberg EJ, Grøtan V, Rolandsen C, Brøseth H, Brainerd S (2005) Change-in-sex ratio as an estimator of population size for Norwegian moose Alces alces. Wildlife Biol 11:163–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Stearns SC (1992) The evolution of life histories. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  44. Storaas T, Gundersen H, Henriksen H, Andreassen HP (2001) The economic value of moose in Norway—a review. Alces 37:97–107Google Scholar
  45. Stubsjøen T, Sæther B-E, Solberg EJ, Heim M, Rolandsen CM (2000) Moose (Alces alces) survival in three populations in northern Norway. Can J Zool 78:1822–1830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sutherland WJ (1990) Evolution and fisheries. Nature 344:814–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Swenson JE, Sandegren F, Bjarvall A, Soderberg A, Wabakken P, Franzen R (1994) Size, trend, distribution and conservation of the brown bear Ursus arctos population in Sweden. Biol Conserve 70:9–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sæther B-E, Haagenrud H (1985) Life history of the moose Alces alces: relationship between growth and reproduction. Holarct Ecol 8:100–106Google Scholar
  49. Sæther B-E, Heim M (1993) Ecological correlates of individual variation in age at maturity in female moose (Alces alces): the effects of environmental variability. J Anim Ecol 62:482–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sæther BE, Engen S, Solberg EJ (2001) Optimal harvest of age-structured populations of moose Alces alces in a fluctuating environment. Wildlife Biol 7:171–179Google Scholar
  51. Sæther B-E, Solberg EJ, Heim M (2003) Effects of altering sex ratio on the demography of an isolated moose population. J Wildl Manage 67:455–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sæther B-E, Solberg EJ, Heim M, Stacy JE, Jakobsen KS, Olstad R (2004) Offspring sex ratio in moose Alces alces in relation to paternal age: an experiment. Wildlife Biol 10:51–57Google Scholar
  53. Tavecchia G, Coulson T, Morgan BJT, Pemberton JM, Pilkington JC, Gulland FMD, Clutton-Brock TH (2005) Predictors of reproductive cost in female Soay sheep. J Anim Ecol 74:201–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Testa JW (2004) Population dynamics and life history trade-offs of moose (Alces alces) in south-central Alaska. Ecology 85:1439–1452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Venables WN, Ripley BD (2002) Modern applied statistics with S. Statistics and computing. Springer, New York Berlin HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  56. Wabakken P, Sand H, Liberg O, Bjarvall A (2001) The recovery, distribution, and population dynamics of wolves on the Scandinavian peninsula, 1978–1998. Can J Zool 79:710–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wallin K, Cederlund G, Pehrson Å (1996) Predicting body mass from chest circumference in moose Alces alces. Wildlife Biol 2:53–58Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Wildlife ManagementHedmark University CollegeKoppangNorway
  2. 2.Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of BiologyUniversity of OsloBlindernNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway

Personalised recommendations