1 Department of Bioscience - Arctic Environment, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Department of Bioscience - Arctic Research Centre, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University3 Department of Bioscience - Arctic Ecosystem Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University4 Department of Bioscience - Wildlife Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University5 Department of Bioscience - Applied Marine Ecology and Modelling, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University6 Norsk institutt for naturforskning7 Department of Bioscience - Arctic Ecosystem Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University8 Department of Bioscience - Wildlife Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University9 Department of Bioscience - Applied Marine Ecology and Modelling, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
The Svalbard breeding population of pink-footed geese winters in Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium, and Nord-Trøndelag is a central staging area both during spring and autumn. During autumn the geese feed primarily on stubble fields (which does not conflict with agriculture), but in spring they feed on pastures and newly sown cereal fields, to great economic expense to farmers. The agricultural conflict has intensified over time as the pink-footed goose population has increased from c. 20,000 in the 1970s to an unprecedented peak of c. 80,000 in 2011 and as the spring staging period in Nord-Trøndelag has become extended. In the recently endorsed AEWA adaptive International Species Management Plan for the Svalbard population of the pink-footed goose a stable population target of 60,000 has been agreed in order to reduce conflicts with agriculture and damage to the tundra vegetation in Svalbard. The population target shall be achieved by a better organization of hunting in Denmark and Norway, where the population has an open season. To reach the stated goal of the AEWA plan, experimental hunting strategies was set up in Nord-Trøndelag to find the optimal hunting method. At Skogn and Nesset, both local areas in Nord-Trøndelag, the hunting has been organized in 2011 and 2012. At Skogn all hunting is organized through a website “gasejakt.no”, where the hunters reserve fields for hunting on a day to day basic. Through this website it is possible to regulate the hunting by making areas available or unavailable for hunting. At Nesset, the research group has full control of the hunting and only one hunting team, led by a hunter associated with the research program, has had access in 2011 and 2012. At Skogn the hunting has been organized with fixed hunting days during the hunting season in 2011 and 2012. At Nesset the hunting method was changed between 2011 and 2012 on an experimental basis. In 2011 the hunt was organized as one or two subsequent hunting days followed by a changeable period of restricted hunting. In 2012 only a single day of hunting followed by three days of hunting-free days were used. The days without hunting were doubled in length when the geese in the area dropped below a threshold. The effectiveness and response by geese to the different hunting methods was measured by numbers of geese shot and number of geese in the area and their position via a day to day registration during the hunting season. To test that the geese did not leave because of a lack of food the field status in both areas was classified and density of waste grain was counted on stubble fields before, during and after the geese had left the area. The experiment is carried out in close collaboration with researchers, landowners and hunters, to achieve an optimal hunt which is realistic and satisfies the stakeholders. Further this collaboration is needed to make the adaptive harvest management plan a success. In my presentation I will show preliminary results from the experimental hunting performance.