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Open Access item Modelling hunting strategies for the conservation of wild rabbit populations

Authors:Angulo, Elena
Villafuerte, Rafael
Keywords:European wild rabbit, Hunting timing, Oryctolagus cuniculus, Pest management, Population dynamics
Issue Date:2003
Publisher:Elsevier
Citation:Biological Conservation 115 (2003) 291–301
Abstract:Recently, European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) populations have undergone a sharp decline that may be exacerbated by hunting. We investigate the effects of the timing of hunting on the conservation of wild rabbit using a model for rabbit population dynamics. Scenarios with different hunting rates and age strategies were simulated for different population qualities. We interviewed hunters to ascertain the degree to which they would accept a change in the timing of hunting. We also investigated the hunting pressure applied by hunters and its relationship with rabbit abundance. Modelling results indicate that the current hunting season has the greatest impact on rabbit abundance. Hunting in late spring optimises hunting extraction while conserving rabbit popula- tions. When the rabbit population quality is low the effects of age strategies and the timing of hunting are less important than the effect of the hunting rate applied. Almost half the hunters would agree to policy changes. More than 75% of hunters implemented self-imposed hunting restrictions to improve rabbit populations, that were more frequently applied in high rabbit abundance areas. Therefore, changing the timing of hunting and increasing the participation of hunters in low abundance areas could optimise both the exploitation and the conservation of wild rabbit populations in southwestern Europe
Publisher version (URL):http`://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(03)00148-4
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10261/57036
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