Nygrén, Tuire, Biology and policies in Finnish moose population regulation and management
- University of Joensuu, 2009, 227 pp.
University of Joensuu, PhD Dissertations in Biology, No. 64, ISSN 1795-7257 (printed),
ISSN 1457-2486 (PDF)
ISBN 978-952-219-313-1 (printed), ISBN 978-952-219-314-8 (PDF)
Key words: Age structure, Alces alces, antler types, cervid genetics, exploitation, moose, moose management, moose policy, population dynamics, productivity, rapid contemporary evolution, regulation goals, sex ratio, weight development Intensified forest management after the last war and taking up the practice of calf hunting in the 1970’s created the prerequisites for a growing population of moose in Finland. The population has been regulated with varying success during the last few decades. This study looks at the history of the development of the regulation of the Finnish moose population, the biological foundations for it and the policies concerning it. The study also considers the effect of the management practices on the moose in Finland. The observations presented here are
used to discuss future alternatives and for presenting a utopia of regulation which aims at reaching a stable and sustainably exploited population. The effects on the moose population of the regulation practiced to date have been sizeable. The population growth has been curtailed for the purpose of minimising moose damage. It has been done by harvesting one third of the animals each year and the harvest has been implemented so as not to reduce its production efficiency. This has given rise to a highly productive and extremely well exploited moose population. It seems that at the turn of the millennium, Finland housed a population of moose that appears to be more productive than anywhere else in the world. Changing the population structure by selective hunting has had an effect on the development of moose population density. There have been intermittent phases of explosive growth and falling population densities. Nevertheless, even the highest population densities have been reasonable compared to Finland’s western neighbours and symptoms of fitness and health from wear on grazing areas, in individual moose, have been negligible. At the end of the observation period, in 2007, the population densities were more or less within the target. The proportion of males, however, was lower than ever before and the number of calves per female and the proportion of twins were decreasing. The population has also changed genetically, as the proportion of males with cervina type antlers has increased in relation to
those with the palmated type. Moose population regulation and management has been a multilateral series of events in natural resource policy, which has been based on scientific research and the experience gained from the continual follow-up of the population. Continual change has been characteristic of this process. The size and structure of the population, the aims of its regulation and management and the methods of follow-up
and hunting have all undergone change. Information has been imprecise, the matters have been complicated and politically controversial, as well as socially difficult and polarised and decisions have had to be made in a hurry. Values have also changed. A valued game animal has become one that is harmful to the national economy. Its value has become interpreted as negative from the point of view of the social economy. On average, the results of the population regulation have been unsatisfactory. The population developed more or less according to target only during 1984–1992, which is when the co-operation between the relevant actors was efficient, aims and responsibilities were clear, the decision making was centralised and the biological sustainability of the populations had higher priority than the economic and harvesting aims. During the course of the 1990’s, however, the hunting law was renewed, the Hunters’ Central Organisation was reorganised and the responsibility for moose management shifted to the local level. In this process of re-organisation and law renewal, previous follow-up methods and practices lost their effectiveness. The development of the moose population became more unpredictable. Aiming for a biologically and socially sustainable population is the objective of the regulation utopia which looks to the future and is presented at the end of the study. One of its characteristics is discarding the aim of maximising the production efficiency of the population, which is what has been increasing the occurrence of problems caused by moose.