Time Limits on Hunting Protect Wildlife Where Quotas Fail

moose canoe photo

Image credit: Jeff Martone/Flickr

Around the world, hunting and fishing is typically controlled through quotas—systems that place limits on the number of trophies each permit holder can take. The number of permits issued and quota for each permit are based on population surveys from the previous year.

But, this system, according to new research, may jeopardize animal populations.Outbreaks of disease, weather anomalies, and other variables can have a serious and difficult to monitor fluctuation in populations from year to year. Quota systems, a new study shows, do not account for these changes. Craig Packer, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota who co-authored the new study, explained:

Quotas don't consider population fluctuations caused by disease outbreaks, harsh weather and other variables that affect animal abundance from year to year...hunters and fishermen can work harder to make their quotas when desirable species are scarce. The extra pressure can cause populations to collapse.

My limiting the length of hunting and fishing seasons, the chances of even the most dedicated sportsman bagging a trophy in a lean year is reduced.

Though hunting has been shown, time and again, to be an unsustainable and costly means of population control, open culls were not the focus of the research. Instead, the team focused on deer and moose in Canada and Norway, which can be brought to the edge of local collapse with ill-timed hunting and other natural pressures.

John Fryxell, a researcher from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, commented:

It can take decades for large animal populations to recover from collapses, as we know from our disastrous experience with cod stocks off the coast of Newfoundland...we need to make strategic long-term changes to make a difference.

Understanding the impact of current policies is an essential first step in this process.

Read more about protecting wildlife populations:
Life on the Endangered Species Waiting List
Badger Culling Not a Cost Effective Means of Protecting Cattle
Wolves Can Help Restore Ecosystems

Related Content on Treehugger.com