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Wild rabbit on S. Jorge islands (Azores, Portugal): the potential of hunting tourism for its control

AuthorsFerreira, Catarina ; Alves, Paulo C.; Gonçalves, David
Issue Date2011
CitationXXXth IUGB Congress and Perdix XIII (2011)
AbstractThe wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus) was introduced on Azores during the 15th century, where it is an important game species. Currently it occurs on 8 of the 9 islands, with variable abundances, under different hunting regimes. The goal of this study was to accurately assess rabbit abundance on S. Jorge Is. (central group), because it is socially perceived as a pest (for damages caused to pastures), and draw guidelines for rabbit management in order to minimize human-wildlife conflicts. Since March 2009, rabbit abundance has been estimated by spotlight counting along five linear transects, distributed throughout the island and crossing different habitats with good visibility. Rabbits were counted monthly, during 1-2 nights, by two observers, along both sides (up to a 100-m width band) of each transect, and classified as juveniles or adults (or undetermined) according to size. The number of rabbits/km (±SE) ranged from 31 ± 11 (February 2011) to 92 ± 42 (July 2009). Average abundance over the last two years is estimated at 63 ± 4.2 rabbits/km, which is considered quite high in relation to other Azorean islands [e.g. 7 ± 0.5 on S. Miguel (eastern group); 16 ± 1.1 on Flores (western group)]. We argue that promoting hunting tourism could be a management option to maintain rabbit numbers under sustainable control and provide income for local populations. This study is ongoing as part of a wider project aimed at improving game management of five game species, including the wild rabbit, in the Azores archipelago.
DescriptionResumen del póster presentado al XXXth International Union of Game Biologists and Perdix XIII, celebrados en Barcelona (España) del 5 al 9 de septiembre de 2011.
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Comunicaciones congresos
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