Investigating the impact of hunting on insular Newfoundland caribou using virtual population analysis

Peckham, Dana Orlando (2008) Investigating the impact of hunting on insular Newfoundland caribou using virtual population analysis. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The key issue in wildlife management is developing strategies to maintain the long-term sustainability of a species. In order to develop a management strategy, we must first understand the make-up of the species including estimates of the stock abundance. The species we are concerned with, in this case, is insular Newfoundland caribou or rangifer tarandus caribou. -- Hunting and trapping is often thought of as a recreational activity, but it also plays a crucial role in wildlife management. Hunting contributes to wildlife management in many ways that most people do not even realize. It is used to maintain a healthy species population, especially in cases where there are no major predators like wolves. The information gathered through hunter returns helps to determine the status of a population by things like how many animals they saw, what was the sex and age (calf or adult) of the animals they saw, and how many of these hunters were successful in their hunt. Hunter experiences also help in understanding the behavioral patterns of a species. -- Other things that hunting does that may not be so obvious are things like its contribution to the economy of a region. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that in 2002, hunters and trappers contributed $847 million to state and wildlife management agencies via hunting and trapping licences and excise taxes. This does not even include revenues gained from pelt sales, outfitting and other spin-offs like hotels, gunsmithing and hunting apparel sales. Hunting and trapping is also a useful tool in taking care of problem animals such as beavers that may cause extensive damage to roads, bridges and dams or coyotes killing livestock on a farm. There is also no arguing that wildlife-auto collisions would be significantly higher, were the population densities not controlled. -- One method we are going to focus on in this paper is virtual population analysis, also known as VPA or cohort analysis. This technique uses catch-at-age data from hunters and using backward recursive formulas, estimates the number of animals alive for a specific cohort at a specific time. VPA has been used most extensively in fisheries analysis but can also be applied in other wildlife applications. There are other methods of abundance estimation as well, such as aerial surveys, which we will compare in the paper. The problem with aerial surveys is that they are time consuming and very expensive. -- The research done in this paper will be facilitated using data provided by the Wildlife Division of the Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 8848
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 51-53).
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Mathematics and Statistics
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Caribou populations--Estimates--Statistical methods; Caribou--Effect of hunting on--Newfoundland and Labrador--Statistics; Wildlife management--Newfoundland and Labrador

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