A note on the effectiveness of incorporating management objectives with ecological variables when modeling red deer abundance
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Big game populations are being raised in areas characterized by different land uses and are being managed under a wide range of circumstances which might influence their population densities and structure. However, the consideration of explanatory variables related to management activities is not generally explicitly considered in game population models. This paper focuses on how estate owners’ management objectives and strategies influence red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) hunting yields. We study red deer harvest in 187 hunting estates in Andalusia (Spain) and use both ecological and management predictors to describe capture levels in each hunting estate. We have found that the main land use of the area where red deer are being raised, the type of hunting holder, and the long-term management strategies (such as fencing and the hunting practices implemented) significantly explain red deer hunting bag, which is often used as proxy of population abundance. Therefore, ecological variables alone are not always sufficient to determine big game harvests. We provide empirical support that reinforces the relevance of considering humans and their long-term decisions when trying to interpret wildlife harvests, populations, and trends. We urge scientists and technicians to incorporate human aims in the game species distribution models and resource user decision models, particularly when game populations are being intensively managed.
KeywordsWildlife Red deer Hunting bags Hunting estate Fencing Hunting modalities Spatial modeling
This study is framed within the RECAMAN Project, funded by the Junta de Andalucía. We would like to thank Pablo Campos, Ana Torres, Luis Guzmán, Isabel Martin, and Eva Pérez-Rodríguez for their collaboration.
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