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A systematic review of ground-based shooting to control overabundant mammal populations

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Bengsen, A. J., Forsyth, D. M., Harris, S., Latham, A. D. M., McLeod, S. R. and Pople, A. R. (2020) A systematic review of ground-based shooting to control overabundant mammal populations. Wildlife Research, 47 (3). pp. 197-207.

PDF (Supplementary material)

Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/WR19129

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR19129


Context: Ground-based shooting is widely used in management programs aiming to alleviate the impacts of invasive or overabundant wildlife populations. However, evaluations of individual shooting operations have shown variable results, and the effectiveness of ground-shooting as a population-management intervention has not been systematically examined.Aims: Our review aimed to (1) assess the efficacy of shooting as a population management tool, and (2) identify commonalities among studies that will help managers identify situations where ground-shooting is most likely to be effective.Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature to identify studies involving ground-shooting. From each study, we collated information about operational objectives, target taxa, geographic context, type of shooter used, effort, effectiveness, and use of additional control tools.Key results: Most studies had no a priori quantifiable objectives. However, 60% of the 64 case studies produced a detectable reduction in population density and/or damage. The most common type of operation used unpaid or commercial harvest-oriented shooters to reduce herbivore density or damage. Only 30% of the operations that used volunteer shooters or recreational hunters achieved their objectives. Target taxa, geographic area or integration of shooting with other population-control methods had no detectable effect on the effectiveness of shooting operations. Common factors that hindered the effectiveness of shooting operations included immigration of target species from adjacent areas (n = 13), decreasing effort from shooters as the target population declined (n = 7) and selective harvesting (n = 7).Conclusions: Ground-based shooting can be an effective management tool for overabundant wildlife populations, but many shooting operations did not achieve a notable decrease in animal abundance or damage. The source of failure could often be attributed to an inability to remove a sufficient proportion of the population to cause a population decline.Implications: Managers contemplating using ground-based shooting to reduce the impacts or density of wildlife populations should (1) carefully consider whether this is a suitable management tool to achieve the desired outcomes, (2) establish clear objectives that aim to meet defined outcomes and allow for continuous improvement, and (3) ensure that operations are sufficiently resourced to achieve and maintain those objectives.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:hunting, human–wildlife interactions, sharp-shooting, vertebrate pest, wildlife management.
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Science > Invasive Species > Modelling > Animal
Science > Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals
Live Archive:01 Sep 2020 02:35
Last Modified:27 Sep 2023 01:47

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