Parturition dates for Eurasian beavers Castor fiber: when should spring hunting cease?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionWildlife biology 7(2001), No. 3, p. 237-241
Hunting Eurasian beaver Castor fiber with firearms during late spring is the dominating harvest form in Norway but may violate the Norwegian wildlife management principle of not hunting during the breeding season. In particular, shooting mothers from newborn young would be considered cruel. As beaver cannot be sexed or effectively aged under spring hunting conditions, selective harvesting at this time is impossible. We examined 32 pregnant beaver shot between 27 March and 12 May 1997-1999 in southeast Norway. No post-parturition females were shot, despite a 15-day extension of the normal hunting season to 15 May. Aregression model predicted a mean birth date for the population of 13 May, with most births between 7 and 18 May and few before 30 April. Post-parturition females were not shot primarily because most births occur after hunting has ceased. Additionally, reduced activity of mothers outside the lodge may limit exposure to hunters. Terminating hunting a month earlier would eliminate the shooting of pregnant females with well-developed foetuses. However, as few watersheds in Norway are ice-free before mid-April, and most beaver are presently bagged in late April, this would likely result in a major reduction in beaver harvests and an increase in damage complaints.