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Economic Analyses of ‘Crippling Losses’ of North American Waterfowl and Their Policy Implications for Management

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Abstract

Hunter 'crippling losses', or unretrieved kill, probably range from 20% to 40% of all ducks hit by gunfire. However, this major mortality factor in duck populations has been largely ignored by waterfowl policymakers and managers. An economic analysis of 'crippling losses' for prairie Canada and the USA was conducted, based on 1992 harvest statistics. The analysis is based on current levels of spending on habitat programmes designed to bolster declining North American duck populations, with reference to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. In 1992, continental 'crippling losses' were 1.6-4.4 million ducks, a figure which contrasts sharply with the 750,000 ducks which the North American Waterfowl Management Plan proposed to add to the continental breeding populations in the same period. The implicit value of continental 'crippling losses' was 20 to 560 million US dollars. For Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) alone, between 57,000 and 152,000 ha of wetland breeding habitat would have been required to compensate for Canadian prairie Mallard 'crippling losses' in 1992. These analyses suggest that the scope of waterfowl management should be broadened to include policies and regulations inducing improvements in hunter behaviour and hunting competency. Lowering the 'crippling loss' rate would complement waterfowl habitat improvement initiatives, and would enable continental waterfowl population goals to be realized sooner.
... A practical way to assess Natural Resource Damage (NRD) is to evaluate the cost of remediation and/or restoration interventions (Burger, 2008;Cole, 2010). When NRD has a relevant impact on birds, three different procedures can be followed to recover the affected populations: 1) implementation of habitat restoration projects with potential ecological benefits for birds (Norton and Thomas, 1994;Zafonte and Hampton, 2005); 2) reduction of mortality deriving from other causes that can be prevented more easily (Cole and Dahl, 2013); 3) restocking/reintroduction programmes to replace birds that die because of human-related causes. The first two procedures have been applied especially at local levels where compensatory actions can be effective, while the last method is widely adopted by hunters in many European countries to counteract the effects of overhunting and enhance their hunting opportunities (Champagnon, 2011;Söderquist, 2015), or as part of conservation projects (Pacheco and McGregor, 2004;Tavecchia et al., 2009). ...
... Our findings largely agree with the assessment carried out in North America by Norton and Thomas (1994) to estimate the economic value of wild ducks shot by hunters and un-retrieved ("crippling losses"). As the sale of waterfowl is prohibited by law in North America and harvested ducks consequently have no direct market value, these authors adopted an approach based on the evaluation of the costs required to manage an equivalent area of wetlands to produce the same number of wild ducks as those lost due to crippling. ...
Article
In European wetlands, at least 40 bird species are exposed to the risk of lead poisoning caused by ingestion of spent lead gunshot. Adopting a methodology developed in North America, we estimated that about 700,000 individuals of 16 waterbird species die annually in the European Union (EU) (6.1% of the wintering population) and one million in whole Europe (7.0%) due to acute effects of lead poisoning. Furthermore, threefold more birds suffer sub-lethal effects. We assessed the economic loss due to this lead-induced mortality of these 16 species by calculating the costs of replacing lethally poisoned wild birds by releasing captive-bred ones. We assessed the cost of buying captive-bred waterbirds for release from market surveys and calculated how many captive-bred birds would have to be released to compensate for the loss, taking into account the high mortality rate of captive birds (72.7%) in the months following release into the wild. Following this approach, the annual cost of waterbird mortality induced by lead shot ingestion is estimated at 105 million euros per year in the EU countries and 142 million euros in the whole of Europe. An alternative method, based upon lost opportunities for hunting caused by deaths due to lead poisoning, gave similar results of 129 million euros per year in the EU countries and 185 million euros per year in the whole of Europe. For several reasons these figures should be regarded as conservative. Inclusion of deaths of species for which there were insufficient data and delayed deaths caused indirectly by lead poisoning and effects on reproduction would probably increase the estimated losses substantially. Nevertheless, our results suggest that the benefits of a restriction on the use of lead gunshot over wetlands could exceed the cost of adapting to non-lead ammunition.
... A practical way to assess Natural Resource Damage (NRD) is to evaluate the cost of remediation and/or restoration interventions (Burger, 2008;Cole, 2010). When NRD has a relevant impact on birds, three different procedures can be followed to recover the affected populations: 1) implementation of habitat restoration projects with potential ecological benefits for birds (Norton and Thomas, 1994;Zafonte and Hampton, 2005); 2) reduction of mortality deriving from other causes that can be prevented more easily (Cole and Dahl, 2013); 3) restocking/reintroduction programmes to replace birds that die because of human-related causes. The first two procedures have been applied especially at local levels where compensatory actions can be effective, while the last method is widely adopted by hunters in many European countries to counteract the effects of overhunting and enhance their hunting opportunities (Champagnon, 2011;Söderquist, 2015), or as part of conservation projects (Pacheco and McGregor, 2004;Tavecchia et al., 2009). ...
... Our findings largely agree with the assessment carried out in North America by Norton and Thomas (1994) to estimate the economic value of wild ducks shot by hunters and un-retrieved ("crippling losses"). As the sale of waterfowl is prohibited by law in North America and harvested ducks consequently have no direct market value, these authors adopted an approach based on the evaluation of the costs required to manage an equivalent area of wetlands to produce the same number of wild ducks as those lost due to crippling. ...
Article
Full-text available
In European wetlands, at least 40 bird species are exposed to the risk of lead poisoning caused by ingestion of spent lead gunshot. Adopting a methodology developed in North America, we estimated that about 700,000 individuals of 16 waterbird species die annually in the European Union (EU) (6.1% of the wintering population) and one million in whole Europe (7.0%) due to acute effects of lead poisoning. Furthermore, threefold more birds suffer sub-lethal effects. We assessed the economic loss due to this lead-induced mortality of these 16 species by calculating the costs of replacing lethally poisoned wild birds by releasing captive-bred ones. We assessed the cost of buying captive-bred waterbirds for release from market surveys and calculated how many captive-bred birds would have to be released to compensate for the loss, taking into account the high mortality rate of captive birds (72.7%) in the months following release into the wild. Following this approach, the annual cost of waterbird mortality induced by lead shot ingestion is estimated at 105 million euros per year in the EU countries and 142 million euros in the whole of Europe. An alternative method, based upon lost opportunities for hunting caused by deaths due to lead poisoning, gave similar results of 129 million euros per year in the EU countries and 185 million euros per year in the whole of Europe. For several reasons these figures should be regarded as conservative. Inclusion of deaths of species for which there were insufficient data and delayed deaths caused indirectly by lead poisoning and effects on reproduction would probably increase the estimated losses substantially. Nevertheless, our results suggest that the benefits of a restriction on the use of lead gunshot over wetlands could exceed the cost of adapting to non-lead ammunition.
... rifle. Norton and Thomas (1994) reported waterfowl crippling loss at 20-40%, while Byers and Dickson (2001) reported crippling losses by subsistence hunters to be 3-20%. Daytime hunting occurred while traveling to and engaging in other extractive activities such as agriculture, fishing, wood collection, rubber tapping (Hevea brasiliensis), palm heart extraction from asaí (Euterpe precatoria), or Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) harvesting, as well as during trips specifically for the purpose of food procurement. ...
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This study identifies terrestrial and aquatic resource management priorities for a proposed indigenous territory, the Tierra Comunitaria de Origen Itonama (TCOI), located in the lowland Amazonian floodplain of Beni, Bolivia. The research focused on extractive activities in the town of Bella Vista, and the objectives were: 1) to determine the species of terrestrial and aquatic fauna that were most frequently harvested for subsistence purposes by human residents, 2) to evaluate preferences and selectivity for particular species of terrestrial prey, 3) to quantify harvest of prey groups (birds, mammals, fish, reptiles) as a proportion of the local diet and economy, 4) to compare hunting, fishing, and production of livestock as sources of animal protein, and 5) to evaluate management of aquatic resources as represented by an indicator species, Colossoma macropomum. Research methods were interdisciplinary, and included interviews with residents of Bella Vista, transect surveys of terrestrial fauna, hunting and fishing activity reports, diet calendars, and collection of selected species. The results of interviews and harvest activity reports indicated that residents sometimes select or avoid certain species of prey according to cognitive preferences, rather than simply abundance or yield per unit of hunting effort, and those preferences may induce over-harvest. Ten species of mammals were identified as the most recognized and actively pursued terrestrial prey for human subsistence in Bella Vista: Agouti paca, Dasypus novemcinctus, Tayassu pecari, Mazama americana, Tayassu tajacu, Blastocerus dichotomus, Tapirus terrestris, Dasyprocta variegata, Mazama gouazoubira, and Priodontes maximus. Management efforts should focus on species that are most frequently exploited, are particular to certain habitats, and/or are vulnerable to depletion. Hunting and fishing activity reports and diet calendars demonstrated the economic and environmental significance of managing fish resources in particular for the subsistence of residents in the TCOI, and of protecting aquatic habitats from degradation due to deforestation and cattle ranching. Fisheries and aquatic resource management is promoted in a case study of Colossoma macropomum, the most important species of fish in the TCOI. Active, participatory, and adaptable management of natural resources in the TCOI will determine the survival of resident populations of fish, wildlife, and humans.
... They arise from animals wounded and lost, and animals killed, but not retrieved. In the case of waterfowl hunting in North America, this loss (known as crippling losses) is large, often exceeding 20% of the actual retrieved kill (Norton and Thomas 1994). However, national waterfowl harvests have been adjusted to accommodate such losses that are regarded, by some, as the acceptable costs of inefficient waterfowl hunting. ...
Article
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This review presents evidence of lead exposure and toxicity to wildlife and humans from spent shotgun and rifle ammunition and fishing weights, and the barriers and bridges to completing the transition to non-lead products. Despite the international availability of effective non-lead substitutes, and that more jurisdictions are adopting suitable policies and regulations, a broader transition to non-lead alternatives is prevented because resolution remains divided among disparate human user constituencies. Progress has occurred only where evidence is most compelling or where a responsible public authority with statutory powers has managed to change mindsets in the wider public interest. Arguments opposing lead bans are shown to lack validity. Differing national regulations impede progress, requiring analysis to achieve better regulation. Evidence that lead bans have reduced wildlife exposure should be used more to promote sustainable hunting and fishing. Evidence of the lead contribution from hunted game to human exposure should shape policy and regulation to end lead ammunition use. The Special Issue presents evidence that a transition to non-lead products is both warranted and feasible.
... Many adverse animal-welfare events are associated with recreational hunting, notably nonfatal wounding. Reported rates of nonfatal wounding for shotgun hunting of birds are often 10-25% (Norton & Thomas 1994). For deer rifle hunting, these rates are typically 10-20% and may exceed 25% for bowhunting of deer (Nixon et al. 2001). ...
Article
Much progress has been made improving animal welfare in conservation over the past two decades. However, several glaring knowledge gaps remain where animal welfare concerns exist but animal welfare studies have not been performed in politically sensitive contexts. We use examples from Australia to identify four such issues lacking meaningful analysis; the absence of animal welfare oversight for operations designated as “management” (as opposed to research), the lack of consideration for the animal welfare impacts of biological agents that are used to control invasive animals, the paucity of studies to examine the welfare of animals that are hunted recreationally, and the scarcity of studies to examine the animal welfare impacts associated with Indigenous wildlife use. We suggest how animal welfare science may be applied to these sensitive topics and provide examples of studies that have effectively addressed animal welfare concerns in similarly contentious contexts. For discussions of animal welfare in conservation to be evidence‐based, courageous research is required in the four key areas of missing science that we have identified. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Shotgun hunting causes many game birds and animals to be hit, but not killed (Norton and Thomas 1994;Hicklin and Barrow 2004;Falk et al. 2006), and then living with embedded shot. The issue of hunted species of animals containing embedded shot is important, because these animals, having recovered from their wounds, may live for many years with the shot material becoming solubilized and exerting potentially toxic effects. ...
Article
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The chemical composition of non-lead, non-toxic, gunshot used for hunting waterfowl is regulated only in Canada and the USA. No nation regulates the composition of non-lead fishing weights, rifle bullets, and gunshot used for upland game hunting. Compositional criteria for these non-lead products are proposed here, based on established experimental toxicity protocols. Because of the demonstrated acute toxicity of ingested zinc shot to birds, fishing weights and gunshot should never be made of this pure metal. Nickel should be avoided as an incidental component of gunshot because of potential carcinogenicity concerns about such embedded shot in birds and other animals. These compositional criteria could be adopted by all nations undertaking the transition to non-lead fishing weights and hunting ammunition. The listed criteria would facilitate production and international trade in non-lead products, and promote easier enforcement and user compliance with non-lead standards.
... Waterbird hunting is a widespread recreational activity and a key factor in the management of many waterbird populations. The direct and indirect effects of hunting on harvested as well as protected populations are subject to ongoing debate (Fox and Madsen, 1997;Haig et al., 2014;Nichols et al., 1995;Newth et al., 2011;Norton and Thomas, 1994;Sutherland, 2001). Whether hunting of wild animals serves as a management tool, a source of food, a mere recreational activity or any combination of these, it should be performed sustainably, ensuring the conservation status of populations as well as reducing negative side effects, such as displacement of birds from critical resources due to disturbance, lead poisoning or crippling (European Commission, 2008;Madsen et al., 2015a). ...
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In order to use recreational hunting as a socially acceptable management tool, the practice of this activity should adhere strictly to the ethical standards of animal welfare and the conservation guidelines on sustainable harvest. A key measure in this regard is monitoring the negative side effects of hunting associated with crippling of wild animals. This study introduces " crippling ratio " (the number of individuals crippled for each successfully bagged) as a novel approach to evaluate hunter performance in a way that accounts for differences in population size and harvest pressure, and which therefore can be used to evaluate initiatives launched to reduce wounding of wild game. We demonstrate that crippling ratios of Svalbard-breeding Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus has been declining steadily over the last 25 years despite an increasing harvest rate. Hence, for juvenile birds that have not previously experienced a hunting season, and therefore can be used as a direct measure of annual variation in the crippling ratio, the number of geese crippled for each goose bagged dropped from 1.00 in 1992–0.11 in 2016. This corresponds to an 89% reduction in crippling frequency. Among adult birds the ratio dropped from 9.75 in 1992–1.99 in 2016, corresponding to a reduction of 80%. This positive development might be ascribed to effective awareness campaigns, training of hunters and adjustment of hunting techniques in both Denmark and, recently, Norway. It exemplifies that monitoring the outcome of management programmes is an important element in ensuring that measures introduced to manage wildlife are socially defensible.
Article
The degree to which predation is an additive versus compensatory source of mortality is fundamental to understanding the effects of predation on prey populations and evaluating the efficacy of predator management actions. In the Columbia River basin, USA, predation by Caspian terns (Hydroprogne caspia) on U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA)‐listed juvenile salmonids (smolts; Oncorhynchus spp.) has led to predator management actions to reduce predation; however, the assumption that reduced predation translates into greater salmonid survival, either within the life stage where predation occurs or across their lifetime, has remained untested. To address this critical uncertainty, we analyzed a long‐term (2008‐2018) mark‐recapture‐recovery dataset of ESA‐listed steelhead trout (O. mykiss) that were tagged (n = 78,409) and subsequently exposed to predation during smolt out‐migration through multiple river reaches (spatial‐scales), jointly estimating weekly probabilities of steelhead survival, mortality due to bird predation, and mortality due to other causes. This concurrent estimation across time‐stratified cohorts allowed for the direct measurement of the strength, magnitude, and direction of relationships between survival and Caspian tern predation. Estimates of tern predation on steelhead were substantial in most years, with cumulative annual estimates ranging from 0.075 (95% creditable interval = 0.058‐0.099) to 0.375 (0.290–0.461). Increases in tern predation probabilities were associated with statistically significant decreases in steelhead survival probabilities in all evaluated years and salmonid life‐stages (smolt out‐migration and smolt‐to‐adult returns). Results provide novel evidence that predation by Caspian terns may have been a super additive source of mortality during the smolt life‐stage and a partially additive source of mortality to the adult life‐stage. Annual estimates of the difference between observed survival and baseline survival (i.e., in the absence of tern predation) ranged from 0.052 (0.017–0.103) to 0.314 (0.172–0.459) during the steelhead smolt life‐stage and from 0.011 (0.001–0.029) to 0.049 (0.025–0.078) to the adult life‐stage. The estimated levels of compensation have important implications for predator management actions aimed at increasing the survival of endangered salmonids, and the modelling approach developed herein provides a framework to directly quantify the impacts of source‐specific mortality factors on prey populations.
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In every nation, the shooting, hunting and sports fishing communities that use lead products have shown themselves unwilling to press for reform of the issue of lead shot and weight use. The voluntary approach to using lead products does not work because there is no real obligation to comply. Therefore, there is little inducement for industry to develop and market substitutes widely, a fact that further confounds voluntary use by negating broad availability of non-toxic substitutes. Commoner (1990) suggested that, in the USA, the most successful environmental remediation has all resulted from legal bans of products because this provides the basis for regulation and public compliance. Thomas and Orlova (2000) cautioned that attempting to reduce pollution without first developing alternate technologies will be met by major non-compliance, thus requiring extra enforcement on the part of governments. In the case of lead shot and fishing weights, technology has produced effective substitutes, but there is still the problem of inducing public change in many countries. It is opined that enforced, legal bans provide the means for change on the part of sportsmen, and simultaneously, provide the incentives for industry to make alternative products available. Given the evidence for a single lead pollution problem in both human and natural environments, it is not expedient policy for governments to attempt to deal with specific types of lead pollution (e.g. leaded gasoline or lead shot) individually, on a case by case basis, especially when substitutes are available. This piecemeal approach fragments the issue across different levels of a country's government, and also across different departments/ministries of a government. This is evident in all the nations of North America, Europe and Australasia that have addressed lead pollution, and it results in inconsistent policy and legislation (if any).
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Determined the effects of regulations on hunter behavior and the level of kill and develops an understanding of the interactions between birds, hunters and the level of kill. -from Authors
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The success of species management of waterfowl depends partially upon the ability of hunters to identify birds in flight. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine present levels of the ability of duck hunters to identify flying waterfowl, and (2) to determine if such hunter abilities could be improved by using a particular identification training program. Twenty experienced and 20 novice hunters from the Madison, Wisconsin, area completed field tests in 1967. The experienced hunters correctly identified 74 percent of 166 flights of 14 waterfowl species, and the novice hunters identified 52 percent of 129 waterfowl flights of 15 species. In 1968, a group of 33 hunters from the Horicon, Wisconsin, area completed identification tests in the field. Twenty-four of the 33 hunters were exposed to three training sessions before undergoing field tests. The "trained" hunters correctly identified 82 percent of 372 waterfowl flights of 16 species, and the "untrained" hunters identified 70 percent of 308 flights of 20 waterfowl species. The data suggest that the majority of duck hunters tested cannot identify waterfowl on the wing to the degree assumed by present species management regulations, but that the field identification ability of duck hunters can be measurably improved by a training program.
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This is Part IV in a series of comprehensive reports on the ecology of the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) in North America. The present report reviews and summarizes long-term hunting regulations, duck stamp sales, and data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Hunter Questionnaire Survey and various other surveys. Detailed information is presented on season dates, season length, bag and possession limits, shooting hours, bonuses, restrictions, and special seasons affecting the mallard in the United States from 1948 through 1974.
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