Grignolio, Stefano and Merli, Enrico and Bongi, Paolo and Ciuti, Simone and Apollonio, Marco (2011) Effects of hunting with hounds on a non-target species living on the edge of a protected area. Biological Conservation, Vol. 144 (1), p. 641-649. eISSN 1873-2917. Article.
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The impact of hunting on wildlife is a complex phenomenon which varies in space and across time, and yet limited knowledge is available on it. This is especially the case of the indirect effects of hunting on the behaviour of target as well as non-target species. Here we analyze how hunting affected the spatial behaviour of 62 radiocollared roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in a protected area adjacent to areas where hunting with hounds (target species: wild boar and hares) and stalking with rifles from high seats without dogs (target species: roe deer) were permitted during the hunting season. Our results showed that hunting caused a significant increase in the home range size of monitored deer, as well as a “reserve effect”, whereby roe deer used the protected area as a refuge from hunters. These behavioural responses were significant only at times when hunting with hounds was conducted, even though roe deer was not the target species of this technique. Reactions to the perceived risk of predation varied among age and sex classes, with yearling being more sensitive and using the protected area more than adults. As shown in our study, hunting harassment provoked by drives with hounds significantly affects the behaviour of non-target species. Therefore, the use of long-legged hounds represents a variable that should be carefully evaluated by wildlife managers in their management plans and conservation policies, especially when endangered or vulnerable species are present.
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