Efficacy of Killing Large Carnivores to Enhance Moose Harvests: New Insights from a Long-Term View
November 30, 2022
We analyzed harvest data to test hypotheses that nearly 4 decades of effort to reduce abundance of brown bears (Ursus arctos), black bears (U. americanus) and gray wolves (Canis lupis) in an 60,542 km2 area in south-central Alaska (Game Management Unit [GMU] 13) was positively correlated with moose (Alces alces) harvests in some time-lagged fashion. Predator-reduction efforts were progressively more aggressive over decades (both de facto and officially designated predator control) and did not have clear starting points which complicated our post hoc analyses. We documented no positive correlations (p > 0.05) between harvests of brown and black bears and subsequent moose harvests for any time lag. Moose harvest was negatively correlated with the previous years’ wolf harvest, but the relationship was weak (correlation = −0.33, p < 0.05). Consequently, we reject our hypotheses that harvest of predators was positively correlated with moose harvests. We also observed no differences in mean moose harvests during periods of officially designated wolf control (2005–2020) and a previous period (p > 0.50). We recommend that predator reductions designed to improve hunter harvests of moose be conducted within a research framework that will permit improved interpretations of results and the implementation of an adaptive-management approach to achieve management objectives.
Author(s): Sterling D. Miller, David K. Person, and R. Terry Bowyer