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Abrupt Changes in Migratory Behaviour on Harvest


This study describes the development in the harvest of the Svalbard Pink-footed Geese in relation to observed changes in population size and migratory behaviour of the population.

In Denmark and Norway the overall hunting bag for pink-feet geese increased stepwise during the 2000s. The population also increased in size over this time but this can only partly explain the change in the hunting bag. It also corresponded to changing patterns in the migratory behaviour of pink-feet, with increased numbers wintering in Denmark and usage of new foraging areas in both Norway and Denmark. This study demonstrates how changes in migratory behaviour and habitat utilisation can abruptly affect exposure to hunting, which showed a functional response to the increased temporal and spatial availability of geese. The paper concludes that the harvest of pink-feet has reached a level likely to cause a population decline. It highlights the need for flexible, internationally coordinated hunting regulations and reliable up-to-date population estimates and hunting bag statistics, to ensure the timely adjustment of management actions.

The study is described in a paper published in PLOSOne and is available on-line.

Part of the data used in this study is available in the Monitoring Data section of this website.

A PDF copy is attached:

Pink-footed Geese in maize stubble field. Photo by: Kevin Clausen