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Duck hunting bag estimates for the 2013/14 season in France

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Abstract and Figures

A national survey of duck bags was carried out during the 2013/14 hunting season in France, for the first time in 15 years. An estimated total of over 2 million dabbling and diving ducks were shot in the country, half of which were Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Proper statistical comparisons with earlier French surveys or with similar data from other countries were not possible because of the different (and sometimes unknown) sampling protocols, but the general trends suggest a relatively stable hunting bag compared to 15 years ago. France remains the European country reporting the greatest number of ducks harvested annually as a result of a long tradition of wildfowling, a dense human population and a central geographic position within the duck flyways. The only major change was a massive decline in the estimated harvest of Common Pochard Aythya ferina, reflecting a similar pattern in other countries and the poor conservation status of the species in Western Europe. Waterfowl hunting bag survey methods should be harmonised in the future, if coordinated adaptive management of populations is to be set in place at the flyway scale.
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©Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Wildfowl (2016) 66: 126–141
Duck hunting bag estimates for the 2013/14
season in France
1Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Unité Avifaune Migratrice,
La Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, F-13200 Arles, France.
2Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Direction de la Recherche
et de l’Expertise, Saint-Benoît, F-78612 Le Perray en Yvelines cedex, France.
3Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Unité Avifaune Migratrice,
Parc d’Affaires La Rivière, 8 Boulevard Albert Einstein, Bâtiment B,
CS F-42355–44323 Nantes, France.
*Correspondence author. E-mail:
A national survey of duck bags was carried out during the 2013/14 hunting season in
France, for the first time in 15 years. An estimated total of over 2 million dabbling and
diving ducks were shot in the country, half of which were Mallard Anas platyrhynchos.
Proper statistical comparisons with earlier French surveys or with similar data from
other countries were not possible because of the different (and sometimes unknown)
sampling protocols, but the general trends suggest a relatively stable hunting bag
compared to 15 years ago. France remains the European country reporting the
greatest number of ducks harvested annually as a result of a long tradition of
wildfowling, a dense human population and a central geographic position within the
duck flyways. The only major change was a massive decline in the estimated harvest of
Common Pochard Aythya ferina, reflecting a similar pattern in other countries and the
poor conservation status of the species in Western Europe. Waterfowl hunting bag
survey methods should be harmonised in the future, if coordinated adaptive
management of populations is to be set in place at the flyway scale.
Key words: Anatidae, ducks, hunter survey, hunting bag estimate.
Precise simultaneous estimations of
population size and bag size (including
crippling loss) are necessary for proper
management of hunting activity and of
quarry species (Madsen et al. 2015). For
this reason European duck (Anatidae)
researchers have long called for coordinated
collection of standardised hunting bag data
at the continental scale (Lampio 1974;
Nowak 1975; Elmberg et al. 2006). As far as
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possible, such data should be collected on a
regular basis; for instance, bag statistics are
collected routinely on an annual basis in
North America, where an adaptive harvest
management scheme for waterfowl has been
in place for the last 20 years (Nichols et al.
2007; Raftovich et al. 2015). The situation is
improving in Europe, with most countries
now collecting bag statistics and there are
mechanisms in place to enable these to be
publicly available (e.g. through the Artemis
portal of FACE, the European Federation
of Associations for Hunting and
Conservation:, which
provides direct links to published data or
national contacts to obtain these from > 20
European countries). However, data are still
neither collected in a standardised way nor
necessarily at the same frequency in the
different countries.
France is an important country for
waterfowl in Europe because of its
extensive coastline, relatively abundant
wetlands and central geographic position
within flyways providing winter quarters,
migration stopovers and/or breeding
grounds to numerous species (Issa & Muller
2015). The most recent published survey
reports that there were c. 650,000 ducks and
148,000 geese (including 126,000 Brent
Geese Branta bernicla) in France during
mid-January 2015, reflecting a long-term
increasing trend in the numbers wintering in
the country (Deceuninck et al. 2016). France
also has a long tradition of wildfowling and
a dense human population which, combined
with large numbers of wintering birds, often
leads to waterfowl hunting bags being
among the largest in Europe, especially for
duck species (Hirschfield & Heyd 2005;
Mooij 2005). Unfortunately, however,
France has not been very good at producing
regular general national duck hunting bag
statistics. The results of some hunting bag
surveys have been produced annually and
over a long period, for instance those made
at a local scale or involving particular
hunting practices (e.g. for nocturnal hunting;
Anstett et al. 2015), but only three national
surveys have been published since the mid-
1970s, for the hunting seasons of winters
1974/75 (ONC 1976), 1983/84 (Trolliet
1986) and 1998/99 (Mondain-Monval &
Girard 2000; Schricke 2000). National
hunting bag estimates for the 2013/14
hunting season have just been released
(Aubry et al. 2016). These cover all species of
birds and mammals hunted in France, but
the aim of the present note is to provide
estimates of the duck bags available to non-
French readers, and to make a rough
comparison of the estimated numbers taken
with records from other European countries
during the same season or from France
during previous surveys.
A detailed description of the survey
methods used to estimate French hunting
bags during the 2013/14 season will be
published elsewhere, but in brief, it
consisted of sampling 60,000 hunters from
the c. 1,200,000 individuals who validated
their licence for the previous season (i.e.
winter 2012/13). Hunters were not selected
randomly at the national scale; instead, a
stratified design was used to take into
account the distribution of hunters among
administrative units (départements, of which
there are 96 in continental France, average
area = 5,700km²), and to put a greater
emphasis on coastal areas where earlier
surveys found that greater waterfowl hunting
activity occurs (Mondain-Monval & Girard
2000). Hunters selected for the survey were
informed by post at the beginning of the
2013/14 hunting season. Before the deadline
for responding to the questionnaire, 30,000
hunters selected at random among those
who had not yet responded received a postal
reminder. After the deadline, 30,000 other
randomly selected non-respondents received
a second postal questionnaire. Among those
who had still not responded to the second
questionnaire, 8,000 hunters were randomly
selected and surveyed by phone, of which
3,700 could be reached. This three-phase
sampling design – a special case of three-
phase sampling for stratification – was used
to attenuate the non-response bias in the
estimation of total hunting bags (Barker
1991; Pendleton 1992; Aubry et al. 2016).
It should be noted that the 2013/14
survey relied on a (pure) probability
sampling design, putting a great emphasis
on the non-response problem, and thus
used a different protocol than the earlier
ones carried out in France, and also differed
from surveys in other European countries
(whose protocols are still insufficiently
known). It was therefore impossible to
conduct proper statistical comparisons
between periods or between countries, and
numbers are simply considered in relation to
each other here to describe general patterns.
We first provide the hunting bag
estimates for France during the 2013/14
season, together with their 95% confidence
interval calculated using the normal
distribution, for each duck species except
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina, Scaup
Aythya marila, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
and seaducks (i.e. Common Eider Somateria
mollissima, Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis
and scoters Melanitta sp.), for which bag sizes
were small and the confidence intervals
around the estimates considered too wide
and too unreliable for publication. We then
considered these hunting bag estimates in
relation to those of the three earlier surveys
in France, with Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
and “all other ducks” being treated
separately, because this was the only
distinction made between species during
the 1974/75 survey (it was also the
most obvious distinction given the
preponderance of Mallard in the hunting
bag estimates; see below). These figures
were then compared with published
estimates of the number of ducks (dabbling
and diving ducks) wintering in the country
each year over the same period (e.g.
Deceuninck et al. 1997, noting that only
mean values were provided for the periods
1967–1976, 1977–1986 and 1987–1996).
These mean values per species should also
be considered with caution, but they were
the only data available and were hence
summed to obtain a proxy for the total
number of ducks other than Mallard present
between 1967 and 1996. For Common
Teal Anas crecca (hereafter Teal) and
Common Pochard (hereafter Pochard)
direct comparisons were made between the
1998/99 and the 2013/14 hunting bag and
waterbird count surveys, because these
species were already being distinguished
from the other ducks in both surveys by
1998/99 (Mondain-Monval & Girard 2000;
Schricke 2000). A correlation trend test
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was used to assess the trends in numbers
of counted birds over years. Statistical
significance for the correlation trend tests
was evaluated by using a randomization test
(see Manly 1997; Edgington 2007). In order
to obtain accurate results, we estimated the
P-value of the test statistic by randomizing
106times the values of the count data
among the years, and the minimum
attainable P-value is thus P = 0.000001. We
therefore do not rely on an arbitrary α-level
of statistical significance and strictly
interpret the P-value as the strength of the
evidence against H0, conditionally to the
data at hand (Edgington 2007, p .4).
Finally, we provide for comparison the
2013/14 (or nearest season) duck hunting
bag data recorded in other European
countries, but again because of the
differences in survey methods between
countries these cannot be compared
statistically. Numbers were provided by the
national body in charge of hunting in each
country, with most compiled and accessible
via the Artemis platform of FACE
described above. The dataset was completed
wherever possible through direct contact
with the people in charge of these national
organisations, or via colleagues contacted
through the Wetlands International/IUCN-
SSC Duck Specialist Group network.
Among the three sampling phases, the
average response rate was 14% for the first
phase, 12% for the second phase, and 93%
for the third phase. National hunting bag
estimates for the nine duck species surveyed
in France during the 2013/14 season
indicated that Mallard was the most
commonly harvested duck, followed by
Common Teal then Eurasian Wigeon Anas
penelope and Northern Shoveler A. clypeata
(Table 1). Bag size estimates for diving
ducks were smaller and associated with a
wider confidence interval than for any of
the dabbling duck species.
The current hunting bag estimate for
Mallard in France (CI: 1,059,768–1,331,939
individuals) was relatively similar to those
made during the former three surveys and did
not appear to follow the long-term increase
in mid-January Mallard numbers recorded in
the country since the 1970s (Fig. 1).
Estimates for the other duck species
yielded a total of 847,105 ducks (CI:
712,593–981,617) shot in France during the
2013/14 season. This again was similar to
those from the earlier surveys, and in any
case did not follow the 85% increase in the
estimated number of wintering ducks
(Mallard excluded) between 1970–74 and
2010–2014 (Fig. 2).
Between the 1998/99 and 2013/14
hunting seasons, the number of wintering
Teal recorded in France gradually increased
(Pearson correlation: r = 0.57, n= 16 count
years, P= 0.021), and the recent hunting
bag estimates similarly exceeded the earlier
one by 11.25% (Fig. 3a). The estimated
number of Teal shot per season was 3.4–3.7
times greater than the estimated number of
individuals counted in mid-January the same
The situation for Pochard was very
different, with winter counts showing no
significant trend in France over the same
period (Pearson correlation: r= –0.28,
n= 16 count years, P= 0.30, n.s.), yet the
hunting bag estimate in 2013/14 was 42%
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Table 1. Number of ducks (and other waterbirds) harvested in France (95% confidence interval in parentheses) and in the other
European countries during the 2013/14 hunting season (except otherwise stated). Countries with no bag data or which did not answer
our survey are not included. The exact list of species covered was not always known when only a total for all ducks was provided.
Mallard Teal Wigeon Pintail Gadwall Shoveler Garganey Pochard Tufted Pochard Waterbirds Total Ref.
Anas Anas Anas Anas Anas Anas Anas Aythya duck + except ducks
platyrhynchos crecca penelope acuta strepera clypeata querquedula ferina Aythya T. duck Lapwing
fuligula Vanellus vanellus
France 1
1,195,853 368,126 159,265 41,349 57,047 113,213 38,977 25,199 14,285 41,717 2,377,087 2,047,180
(1,059,768– (310,910– (124,198– (27,355– (43,211– (86,437– (21,955– (14,222– (6,347– (23,782– (2,121,913– (1,823,709–
1,331,939) 425,342) 194,332) 55,344) 70,883) 139,989) 55,999) 36,176) 22,224) 59,651) 2,632,262) 2,270,650)
Austria 67,952 2
Bulgaria 54,048 2,031 224 742 177 16 20 3
Czech Republic 256,375 824 4
Denmark 445,000 96,200 40,700 5,000 2,700 2,800 683 653 5,200 5
Estonia 5,614 1,883 967 372 75 360 168 1 11 6
Finland 282,400 119,000 35,500 4,800 3,600 5,000 600 3,400 7
Germany 363,959 8
Hungary 46,724 9
Iceland 13,430 1,661 1,130 112 10
Italy 48,651 10,474 4,092 1,100 1,238 1,547 848 499 656 11
Latvia 20,085 949 431 69 207 201 79 87 25 12
Lithuania 13,269 13
Luxemburg c. 850 14
Malta 11 86 16 9 19 14 11 3 1 15
Netherlands 160,000 4,783 16
Norway 13,600 2,150 1,900 370 17
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Poland 100,627 18
Portugal 27,164 2,326 38 50 421 216 190 69 19
Slovakia 15,856 20
Slovenia 3,634 21
Spain 338,668 22
Switzerland 5,537 104 1 0 30 0 1 91 214 23
United Kingdom 1,000,000 24
1Aubry et al. (2016).
3Union of hunters and anglers in Bulgaria, pers. comm. Note these data are for the full 2013 calendar year.
4Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, unpub. data.
5Asferg (2015).
7Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (2014).
9Csányi (2014).
10Beck (2016). Note these data are for the 2012–13 hunting season and only cover Lombardia + Friuli Venezia Giulia regions.
12Latvian State Forests, unpub. data.
14Schley et al. (2014).
15Parliamentary Secretariat for agriculture, fisheries and animal rights (2013, 2014).
16Royal Hunting Association of the Netherlands, pers. comm.
18Domaszewicz et al. (2012) Note these data are for the 2011–12 hunting season. Note these data are for the 2010–11 hunting season and only cover 1,680 hunting states. Note these data are for the 2003 hunting season. Note these data are for the 2012 hunting season. Note these data are for year 2013. Note these data are for the 2012–13 hunting season.
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Number of ducks in bag (dots)
Number of ducks in mid-January (circles)
Figure 2. Estimated annual hunting bag for ducks except Mallard in France (filled circles) and
estimation of winter population size based on mid-winter surveys (empty circles). See text for sources
of the data.
Number of Mallards in bag (dots)
Number of Mallards in mid-January
Figure 1. Estimated annual hunting bag for Mallard in France (filled circles) and estimation of winter
population size based on mid-winter surveys (empty circles). See text for sources of the data.
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Figure 3. Number of individuals shot (black columns) and counted in mid-January (circles) between
winter 1998/99 and winter 2013/14 in France for: (a) Common Teal, and (b) Common Pochard.
Vertical bars show upper limit of 95% CI (national hunting bag).
Number of Teal
1998/99 2003/04 2008/09 2013/14
Number of Pochard
1998/99 2003/04 2008/09 2013/14
lower than the estimate during the 1998/99
hunting season (Fig. 3b). As opposed to the
situation regarding Teal, the estimated
hunting bag represented only 39–53% of
the number of Pochard counted in January
of the same year.
The total estimated number of ducks
harvested in France during the 2013/14
hunting season was 2,047,180 individuals
(CI: 1,823,709–2,270,650), which was far
greater than the estimates in any other
European country for which data were
available (Fig. 4).
The new national hunting bag survey for
France during the 2013/14 season yielded
results generally in accordance with earlier
similar surveys in the country: an estimated
c. 2 million ducks are harvested per year,
approximately half of which are Mallard,
and with dabbling ducks being harvested in
much greater numbers than diving ducks
(equivalent to a 50-fold difference in
estimated bag size).
Before continuing the discussion, it
should be highlighted again that the
probability sampling design used to obtain
the present estimates relied on multiphase
sampling of the hunter population and put a
great emphasis on attenuating the non-
respondent bias in the estimation of the
total hunting bag (if non-respondents are
hunters with limited or no effective hunting
activity, or with a bag judged too low by
them to deserve reporting, then such a bias
would strongly overestimate total hunting
bag). It therefore differed from the methods
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Figure 4. Annual duck hunting bag in the 24 European countries for which data were available. Data
generally refer to the 2013/14 hunting season and entire countries except where specified in the
footnotes of Table 1.
Duck hunting bags in France 135
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used in France during earlier surveys,
and such methods were not harmonised
between European countries either. This is
of course a major limitation, and all
comparisons between surveys should hence
be considered with caution.
The numbers of Mallards and total
numbers of other ducks reported wintering
in France have clearly increased from the
early 1970s to the mid-2010s (Deceuninck &
Fouque 2010; Deceuninck et al. 2016), yet
their respective estimated national hunting
bags have not showed the same pattern, and
indeed remained rather stable. It is true that
in both cases the estimated annual bag is
several times greater than the number of
birds counted in mid-January. This is likely
to be due to both the fact that: (i) duck
counts are carried out at the end of the
hunting season, and (ii) throughout the
hunting season, hunters harvest from a
much larger number of ducks on the
move, including a pool of mobile birds
continuously crossing the country during
migration, as well as those that winter per se
(Trolliet 1986; see also Caizergues et al.
2011). The apparent stability in the
estimated numbers shot (assuming the
methods were still comparable to some
extent) may therefore indicate that fewer
birds were present or crossed the country,
and could therefore be harvested, before the
January counts. It is also possible that
hunting pressure decreased in France. Some
recent analyses do suggest a decline of the
North-western European populations of
some ducks (i.e. Pintail Anas acuta or
Wigeon), but this is over the short term
(2003–2012). The trends in population size
have conversely been generally positive for
all species if one considers the last 40 years,
apart maybe for Mallard, whose trend from
1974–2002 was considered declining or
stable, and Pochard which have been
considered to be in decline but contributed
only a minor part to the estimated bags
(Scott & Rose 1996; Wetlands International
2016). It is possible that the hunting
pressure per hunter has decreased since the
1974/75 survey in France, but we have no
study to ascertain the precise changes
involved. Seasons have been reduced
(République Française 2015) and the total
number of French hunters fell from around
2,200,000 hunters during the 1974–75
hunting season (ONC 1976, pp. 3,5) to
fewer than 1,200,000 hunters during the
2013/14 season (see also Lecocq & Meine
1998). Although no specific licence is
necessary for waterfowl hunting in France,
which prevents any estimation of the
number of wildfowlers, there is no reason to
believe that their number has not also
decreased. Moreover, according to the
FNC (Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs –
the French National Hunters’ Federation)
the average age of French hunters is
gradually increasing (with the median age
of French hunters currently around 55
chasseurs/les-chasseurs-qui-sont-ils/). These
two facts are consistent with the hypothesis
that hunting pressure has gradually reduced
in France over the last 40 years. This could
explain why the estimated duck hunting bag
in France has remained fairly stable despite
globally increasing duck populations (which
could also be due to saturation effects on
hunters; e.g. Kahlert et al. 2015). A closer
look at Figure 2, however, shows that changes
in duck hunting bags (Mallard excluded)
between 1998/99 and 2013/14 were very
consistent with the trend in wintering bird
numbers. It is therfore also possible that the
earlier surveys in 1974/75 and 1983/84
simply over-estimated the hunting bags,
perhaps by underestimating the number of
hunters coming home having shot no birds,
who are unlikely to respond to hunting bag
surveys to a similar extent as successful
hunters (Barker 1991; Pendleton 1992).
Concerning Mallard, it should also be
kept in mind that, independent of trends
in the wild population, released farmed
birds form the bulk of the harvest in this
species, with releases in Europe and in
France being counted in millions of
individuals (Mondain-Monval & Girard
2000; Champagnon 2011). It is therefore
most likely that the Mallard harvest in
France is driven more closely by fluctuations
in the number of birds released annually
than by any trend in the natural population.
Changes in estimated Teal hunting bags
since the 1998–99 survey were consistent
with the recorded increase in their wintering
numbers in France, as well as in Europe
(Wetlands International 2016). As discussed
above, the fact that the French hunting bag
amounted to c. 3.5 times the wintering
population size indicates that most of the
harvest is of birds crossing the country
during autumn and winter or at least that
these birds, once harvested, are replaced by
new immigrants (Trolliet 1986; Caizergues et
al. 2011; see also Guillemain et al. 2010). The
situation was somewhat different for
Pochard: here the estimated numbers
wintering in France have been fairly stable,
but have declined markedly in Europe, to
the point that the population is now
considered “Vulnerable” by IUCN (Birdlife
international 2015). Such broad-scale
decline is mirrored in the massive decrease
of the estimated French hunting bag which
has become c. 40% lower in 15 years, a
pattern also reported e.g. in Denmark
(Christensen et al. 2013) and in Switzerland
( Such a decline in
European Pochard numbers (and thus the
estimated hunting bag) could partly be due
to the re-distribution of birds to areas
outside their previous geographic range
where they are counted in western Europe,
but is also likely linked to falling
reproductive success attributed to a large
extent to degradation in breeding conditions
(Fox et al. 2016). The sustainability of the
harvest of this species is currently subject to
study and requires further review.
On a European scale, France had the
largest estimated duck hunting bag of all the
countries for which data were available
during the 2013/14 season, with estimates
twice that from the United Kingdom with
the second highest take. It should not be
forgotten that half of the French bag was
composed of Mallard, of which the vast
majority is likely of reared and released
origins (see above). However, this leaves c.
one million wild dabbling and diving ducks
which are harvested annually in France,
highlighting again the importance of this
activity, the density of human population
(and hence, hunters) and the unusual hunting
opportunities provided by the extent of
French wetlands and the central geographic
position of France in the flyways. France
already had the largest estimated duck bag in
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earlier pan-European analyses, which like
here also included the UK, Denmark,
Finland and Germany within the top five
countries with the largest bags in Europe
(Mooij 2005; Hirschfeld & Heyd 2005).
Fifteen years after the last hunting bag
survey in France, the present analysis
provides results which are very consistent
with earlier ones, apart from the substantial
decrease in the estimated Pochard harvest.
The observation that over 2 million ducks
are shot annually in France may constitute a
very large number of birds, and cause
concern to an outside observer. It should
however be emphasised that a very large
proportion of these are Mallard of captive
reared origin (in Camargue, southern
France, genetic analyses confirmed a wild
origin for only 9% of sampled hunted
Mallard; Champagnon et al. 2013), and that
most of the other species have been
increasing over the long-term, despite such
an apparently large harvest (Wetlands
International 2016). Given their specific life-
history traits of relatively limited lifespan
but especially high fecundity (e.g. Gaillard et
al. 1989), ducks are naturally well equipped
to compensate for the mortality due to
hunting, and hence sustain relatively high
harvest rates compared to other species (e.g.
Cooch et al. 2014). This could be one of the
reasons why Pöysä et al. (2013) could actually
not demonstrate any correlation between
breeding duck population trends in Finland
and hunting pressure at the European scale.
This is not to say that the hunting activity
plays no part in the population dynamics of
duck species, nor that it should not be
adequately monitored. It was important
for the general understanding of duck
population dynamics that a bag survey was
conducted for a country where duck
hunting is so extensive as in France.
However, fifteen years have passed since the
previous survey in France, while other
countries could readily provide (although
not necessary always with a precise survey
protocol) annual hunting bag data on
demand for a specific year (see Table 1 and
footnotes). Such infrequent assessments
in France may prevent us from detecting
short-term changes in harvest trends, and
hence compromise our ability to implement
conservation actions effectively for the
harvested species. Furthermore, with a
survey every 15 years it is not possible to
assess inter-annual fluctuations in the
harvest, which may be great in species such
as ducks that are differentially prone to
distribute themselves across Europe in
response to adverse (Ridgill & Fox 1990) or
mild weather (Lehikoinen et al. 2013; Pavon-
Jordan et al. 2015). Bag surveys at a smaller
scale (i.e. only nocturnal hunting, for which
annual bag reporting is mandatory) suggest
the 2013/14 hunting season in France was
comparable to the former surveys, with
333,588 individuals shot at night during that
season, compared to between 280,908 and
393,317 individuals during the three earlier
assessments (Anstett et al. 2012; 2013; 2014;
2015). It is, however, difficult to provide any
robust analysis of the causes of potential
differences between national bag sizes when
these are estimated as infrequently as at
15-year intervals.
The main limitation of the present analysis
was the heterogeneity in the methods
employed to survey hunters and estimate
hunting bags through time in France, and
between the different European countries.
There are regular calls for harmonised
collection of waterfowl hunting statistics in
Europe (Lampio 1974; Nowak 1975;
Elmberg et al. 2006), and a general move
towards coordinated adaptive management
schemes for these species at the European
scale or under the auspices of AEWA
(Madsen et al. 2015). Such schemes will
require both reliable and coordinated
assessments of hunting kill as well as greater
frequency of hunting bag assessment in the
near future, but the fact that hunting
statistics were so easily accessible to us from
so many European countries during the
present analysis shows that the community
is now considering seriously the issue of
hunting statistics. This gives some basis for
optimism that such statistics will become
increasingly available from more countries
in the future. The next step should be that
someone, or some European organisation,
takes the initiative and leads on developing
a harmonised, systematic and integrated
system of hunting bag assessment at the
flyway scale.
We would first like to thank the millions of
European hunters who reported their duck
bag statistics in France and across Europe,
and hence made this study possible. We also
acknowledge FACE and the Duck Specialist
Group of Wetlands International/IUCN for
support in finding the national hunting bag
data. We warmly thank Jochen Bellebaum,
Sjoerd Dirksen, Matt Ellis, Johan Elmberg,
Andy Green, Richard Hearn, Mara Janaus,
Wim Knol, Dúi J. Landmark, Nele
Markones, Rafael Mateo, Petr Musil, Zuzana
Musilová, Szabolcs Nagy, Aevar Petersen,
David Rodrigues, David Scallan, Alexandra
Topouzanska, Willem Van Den Bossche and
Marc van Roomen for their help with
translation of some national documents or
for finding more cryptic information. Jean-
Pierre Arnauduc, Mathieu Sarasa, Eileen
Rees, Tony Fox and an anonymous referee
provided valuable comments on former
versions of the manuscript. The French
national hunting bag survey (season
2013/14) was supported by the FNC
(Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs – the
French National Hunters’ Federation) and
ONFCS (Office National de la Chasse et de
la Faune Sauvage – the National Hunting
and Wildlife Agency). B.F. was supported by
an ONCFS PhD grant.
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... It is likely that they forget some species. This is a usual problem for this type of exercise as Guillemain et al. (2016) have faced during their survey for the 2013-2014 hunting season in France based on a memory-based questionnaire. Overall, we observed that the respondents had their own knowledge of WBs, and that this knowledge is not hierarchical in relation to other knowledge of different natures. ...
... Fourth, not only it is difficult to obtain good estimates of Palearctic and Afrotropical population size and trends in the North and South, but it is more difficult to obtain unbiased and precise estimates on hunting pressure through the total amount of harvest numbers in Europe (Johnson et al., 2018;Guillemain et al., 2016;Hirschfeld et al., 2019;Mathevet and Mesléard, 2002) and the number of people involved (Hirschfeld et al., 2019) (AppendiX C.2). Thus, obtaining robust data in southern countries, especially in the Sahel, remains challenging, as we have experienced in this work. We are confronted to the problem of spatial extrapolation, especially for important sites such as IND, LF, LB and LM as described above. ...
Each year, millions of Palearctic waterbirds migrate between Eurasia and the wintering wetlands of the Sahel-Sahara region. International censuses show these populations are declining. Although hunting is recognised as the second cause of decline after habitat degradation along flyways, waterbird harvesting in the African wintering region remains overlooked. To fill this information gap, we conducted a hunting survey in the seven main Sahel-Saharan wetlands during the wintering season. Based on a socioeconomic, knowledge and off-take questionnaire, we estimated an annual harvesting level proxy per respondent. The results indicated that waterbird harvesting is a widespread practice in the research areas. Based on site, harvesting occurred from opportunistic and food off-take to specialised and commercial hunting. Rallidae and Anatidae were the targeted families, and Afrotropical species were more hunted than Palearctic species. Moreover, most of the targeted species had a “least concern” status in the IUCN red list of threatened species. Despite the high harvesting levels of the Malian and Egyptian sites, the total off-take seemed to occur at a lower level than at sites in Europe. This first survey conducted on this scale underlined that migratory waterbirds represent only a limited part of the food or income of the Sahel-Saharan human population. In order to secure both sustainable harvesting and environmental justice, international conservation efforts at the flyway level should implement a meaningful integration of Sahel-Saharan population cultural and subsistence needs and should engage all countries in a collaborative conservation and management approach across the entire migratory range.
... According to country/region-specific requirements, each huntable waterbird species may be considered individually for defining the variables of interest (for instance, in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Latvia, etc.) or some species may be grouped together (for instance, ducks in the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, etc.). In France, the situation has varied across the successive nationwide hunting bag surveys (1974-1975, 1983-1984, 1998-1999 or 2013-2014), but all game species were distinguished during the most recent one (see Guillemain et al. 2016). It is always possible to define a variable of interest at a species group level by aggregating the hunting bags for all the species of the group or to define the variables of interest by referring to a particular spatial domain as long as the spatial grain (or spatial resolution) of the domain under consideration is greater or equal to those of the data location. ...
... After Wallgren and Wallgren (2014) sampled hunters (60,000 individuals randomly selected among the ca. 1.2 M potentially active hunters; see Guillemain et al. 2016) to respond to a survey: it was left to the respondent to choose between a paper or a Web questionnaire of similar appearance. The second mixed-mode approach is the sequential approach (de Leeuw 2005; Bethlehem 2009, p. 161). ...
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For migratory birds, sustainable harvest management based on quantitative modelling needs cross-border hunting bag statistics. At the European scale, proper modelling requires both reliable and mutually compatible hunting bag data between regions and countries. Owing to the absence of harmonisation among the different hunting bag collecting schemes in Europe and the lack of methodological metadata, adaptive management at the flyway scale is currently extremely challenging for a number of species. For improving the current state of affairs, we expose statistical concepts, terminology and issues inherent to hunting bag data collection schemes; identify the multiplicity of error sources for being able to judge the quality of hunting bag statistics; call for a harmonisation process; discuss the origin of the hurdles in the production of standardised hunting bag statistics at the European scale; and suggest some potential avenues for future actions for overcoming them.
... Another common wildfowl, the mallard, (Anas platyrhynchos), is the most well-known, widespread, and numerous duck species with an estimated global population of more than 19 million breeding individuals [13]. It is also one of the world's most important game species with an estimated annual harvest of approximately 4 million mallards in Europe and Russia [14,15]. The number of mallards shot in Sweden has increased from 75,000 to almost 300,000 birds per year in only 25 years and the trend is still upward [16]. ...
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Future challenges concerning protein supply for food and feed include the management of all currently available resources. In Sweden, wildfowl are hunted for several reasons, one of which is to protect growing crops. In this study, meat from wild geese and mallard was evaluated with respect to its quality and sensory parameters. The most pronounced sensory differences were between meat from the barnacle goose and the Canada goose and between meat from mallards that were farmed and born wild. This study also provides measurements of values for the nutritional and heavy metal contents of the meat from these wildfowl species in order to elucidate their possible use as modern foods.
... Les données sur les tableaux de chasse ne sont toujours pas collectées de manière standardisée ni à la même fréquence entre les différents pays (Guillemain et al. 2016). La France en fait malheureusement partie avec seulement quatre enquêtes nationales publiée depuis le milieu des années 1970 pour les saisons de chasse de 1974/75 (ONC 1976), 1983/84 (Trolliet 1986/99 (Mondain-Monval and Girard 2000Schricke 2000) et 2013/14 ), malgré le fait que la France soit l'un des pays d'Europe où les tableaux de chasse sont les plus élevés (Hirschfeld and Heyd 2005). ...
De nombreux programmes de suivis utilisent des données de comptage pour quantifier et prévoir les tendances temporelles et spatiales d’évolution des estimations d’abondance. L’objectif principal est d’identifier les espèces nécessitant le plus d'attention en matière de conservation et de gestion. Les méthodes de comptage sont rarement en mesure de fournir des tailles de population absolues, poussant à recourir à l’échantillonnage de la population concernée. Par définition, les données collectées dans tout protocole d’échantillonnage présentent des biais, il est donc important d’évaluer l’influence des biais de comptage sur la compréhension de la dynamique spatio-temporelle de la faune sauvage.À travers cette thèse, nous avons étudié l’influence des biais de comptage (erreur d’estimation des groupes et détection imparfaite des individus) sur les estimations d’abondance d’espèces grégaires et pris en compte ces biais pour modéliser les évolutions de répartition spatial au cours du temps. Pour cela, nous avons utilisé une série de données exceptionnelle, de par sa couverture spatiale et temporelle, de comptages d’oiseaux d’eau en Camargue, au sud de la France. Cette thèse s’articule autour de 2 sections.La première section visait à mieux comprendre le processus d’observation qui génère les données de comptages. Cette recherche méthodologique a porté sur l'amélioration de la collecte des données afin de réduire les biais et/ou d'accroître la précision des estimations d’abondance, et sur le développement de méthodes statistiques capables de prendre en compte les biais ou l'incertitude des données collectées.Le premier article de cette section a montré à quel point il est important de considérer et minimiser les changements d’observateurs dans le temps lorsque l’on souhaite évaluer les tendances d’espèces grégaires, compte tenu de l'erreur d'estimation de la taille des groupes.Dans le deuxième article, nous avons développé un modèle combinant des données de comptage de sources différentes (aérienne et terrestre) afin de prendre en compte la détection imparfaite des individus tout en considérant les surestimations (double comptage, erreur d’identification) qui peuvent survenir durant les comptages.Le troisième article a révélé que la mise en place d’une méthode d’échantillonnage par distance de détection est réaliste d’un point de vue à la fois statistique et économique pour des espèces grégaires caractérisées par une forte hétérogénéité spatiale dans la distribution des groupes.Sur la base de cette première section, la seconde section de cette thèse visait à mieux comprendre les mécanismes écologiques d'évolution temporels et spatiaux de l’abondance de la Sarcelle d’hiver (Anas crecca) dans le delta de Camargue.Le quatrième article applique les modèles développés ci-avant pour montrer que des changements rapides (d’une saison d’hivernage à une autre) dans la gestion hydraulique d’une unité fonctionnelle (remise diurne et zones de gagnages nocturnes à proximité) influencent directement les variations annuelles des effectifs de Sarcelles d’hiver sur la remise.Le cinquième article a montré que l'arrêt de plus en plus précoce de la chasse au cours des 50 dernières années a conduit à une plus grande utilisation de la région par la Sarcelle en début de printemps.Les résultats obtenus en termes de compréhension des méthodes de comptage, de l’écologie des anatidés et de réflexion sur l’évolution des pratiques de gestion des zones humides pourront être mobilisés à l’échelle nationale et internationale pour mieux gérer les espèces grégaires, leurs habitats et la biodiversité associée.
... Our is not a simple case study, but has the potential to illustrate patterns of change for wintering grounds/spring stopovers in general, because the change in legal hunting dates in Camargue followed national rules and a general trend in Europe. We focused on teal because it is the most abundant purely wild duck in the region (some mallard Anas platyrhynchos are released hand-reared birds; Champagnon et al. 2013, Guillemain et al. 2016. We assessed whether their abundance during February and March changed over the years in a gradual fashion over the entire study period, showed a step change after hunting was banned, or changed at a different rate after installations of full hunting bans in 1980 and in 2002. ...
... France and Spain) were more likely to show an increased male bias in the sex ratio in 2016 compared with 1989-1990, whereas more northerly countries showed little or no change. A higher proportion of Common Pochard females may nowadays winter in more northern areas, thereby avoiding high hunting pressure of the southern wintering areas [for national bag statistics see Hirschfeld and Heyd (2005) and Guillemain et al. (2016); see also Brides et al. (2017)]. Furthermore, exposure to lead poisoning from gunshot ingestion is higher in southern than northern Europe (Mateo 2009). ...
Full-text available
Sex ratio variation has important consequences for population dynamics and viability. Adult sex ratio is male biased in many duck species, and data from wintering areas suggest male bias has been increasing in some European duck species. However, the reasons for changes in sex ratios remain poorly understood, and information on sex ratio variation among breeding ducks is limited. We studied long-term changes in breeding sex ratios and breeding numbers in Common Pochard Aythya ferina and Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula in southern Finland, the former species being currently assessed as critically endangered and the latter as endangered in Finland. In addition, we tested the hypothesis that between-year variation in breeding sex ratios is affected by the severity of weather conditions in the wintering areas. The proportion of females among breeding Tufted Ducks decreased from 42.9% in 1951–1970 to 36.9% in 1996–2015, while no statistically significant change was observed in Common Pochard (41.8% and 39.5%, respectively). Both species showed a decline in breeding numbers over the same period. Severity of the preceding winter did not affect the proportion of females in the breeding area.
... Indeed, although the lake of Grand-lieu itself is a strictly protected area, hunting pressure can reach high levels in its direct vicinity (300-800 pochard would be killed each year out of 3000-5000 counted at the peak of the wintering season; Reeber 2016). In France, the hunting bag during the 2013-2014 season was ca 25 000 individuals out of 65 000 counted in January (Guillemain et al. 2016). The hunting pressure is much lower in the United Kingdom and almost null in Switzerland, with an annual bag for the 2013-2014 hunting season estimated around 2500 (Hearn, unpubl. of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation) and 91 pochards respectively, out of wintering numbers of ca 25 000 and 35 000 individuals, respectively (Guillemain et al. 2016, Hirschfeld andAttard 2017). ...
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In Western Europe, Common pochard populations have experienced a sharp decline over the last two decades, together with an increasing proportion of males. Both of these changes were suggested to result from decreasing survival of nesting females (i.e., survival of adult females) owing to increasing predation pressure. To test this hypothesis, we used capture-mark-recapture/recovery data of Common pochard ringed during autumn-winter (October-February) in three countries of Western Europe (Switzerland, United Kingdom and France). We found no evidence for decreasing survival of individuals ringed in the United Kingdom or in Switzerland over the long term (1977-2011). In France, adult males and juvenile females experienced significant decreasing survival over a shorter interval (2004-2017). Overall, females displayed lower survival than males, although this was only weakly supported by the French dataset. In contrast, only sex differences and no age differences in survival rates were recorded in the UK and Switzerland (females 0.67 ± 0.03 and 0.69 ± 0.03; males: 0.81 ± 0.01 and 0.75 ± 0.01, respectively), while both age and sex differences were recorded for France (adult females 0.62 ± 0.07, adult males 0.66 ± 0.07, juvenile females 0.49 ± 0.08, juvenile males 0.54 ± 0.08). Therefore, decreasing survival of adult females was unlikely the underlying cause of the decline of Common pochard populations in Western Europe. Using an age-structured two-sex matrix population model, we show that when adult males experience higher survival than adult females (as it is the case for Common pochards), decreasing survival of nests and/or juveniles can trigger decreasing population size and increasing proportions of males at the same time.
... For illustration purpose, consider a simple case with only three game species, for instance the Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), the Common snipe (Gallinago gallinago) and the Jack snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus). We build a fictive population consisting of 1.2 million hunters on the basis of hunting bag data gathered during the last French nationwide hunting bag survey (2013-2014 hunting season, see for instance Guillemain et al., 2016): (i) the table documenting the combinations of species usually hunted (Table 1) and (ii) the harvest reported by the respondents. ...
Hunting bag statistics are often the only available data for performing ecological studies about harvested species, and total harvest is sometimes used as a proxy of abundance of the game species under study in a given geographical area and period of time. This practice raises at least two questions, (i) are the total hunting bag estimates good indices of population abundance, and if so, for what uses?, (ii) what is the reliability of given hunting bag statistics and is it possible to evaluate and take into account their uncertainty without relying on uncheckable assumptions? This methodological paper is aimed at answering the second question, from the point of view of the hunters' sampling. Through Monte Carlo simulations, we illustrate the potential selection bias induced by relying on volunteer samples of hunters. We expose the statistical causes and remedies to this issue. We put the emphasis on the paramount importance of random sampling, both for avoiding selection bias and to perform statistical inferences on a sound basis, in a framework free of statistical assumptions. We explain under what circumstances not taking into account unequal inclusion probabilities at the estimation stage could result in biased estimation. The acknowledgement that for a selection bias to occur, it is necessary that both the unequal inclusion probabilities are not accounted for in the estimators and these probabilities are correlated to the individual hunting bags is a statistical result that is neither widely known nor appreciated by most wildlife ecologists — and perhaps also, some wildlife statisticians.
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The white-crowned Pigeon (WCPi), Patagioenas leucocephala, and the scaly-naped Pigeon (SNPi), P squamosa, are two Caribbean endemic species of patrimonial and cynegetic interest. Although both species are under the threat of habitat destruction and hunting pressure, population trends remain undocumented in a large part of their geographical range. Here, we used both the “auditory and visual” and “call-broadcast” census methods to assess the occurrence and relative abundance of both species in Guadeloupe (French West Indies). The call-broadcast method was found to be more efficient as it reduced the problem of “false absence” while increasing the probability of detection. Results from our surveys showed that both WCPis and SNPis were at low density and showed complete habitat segregation. SNPis were only encountered in rainforest, whereas WCPis could be observed at count stations located in dry and swamp forests, mangroves, agricultural lands and wet meadows. We recommend the use of the call-broadcast method for monitoring the two species on islands where they occur at low density, under which conditions distance sampling may be poorly reliable. The general relevance of the call-broadcast method to other species of pigeons and doves deserves further attention, especially to document population trends in elusive game species of conservation interest.
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National accounts suggest that the Common Pochard Aythya ferina was an uncommon breeding bird throughout western Europe before 1850. Extensions to the breeding range in the late 19th century were potentially aided by the rapid development of managed fish-ponds in eastern Europe, which provided suitable novel habitat at that time. Expansion into western Europe followed in subsequent decades. Wetland and waterbody eutrophication throughout Europe, which likely provided food and cover for the birds, may have accelerated the rapid expansion from the 1950s until the early 1980s. Widespread declines in the last 30 years, especially in eastern Europe, where breeding numbers are highest, are possibly linked to intensification and/or abandonment of freshwater fish farming and changes in water quality. Studies show that Pochard gain fitness benefits from nesting in Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus colonies and hence has been affected by major losses of European gull colonies in the last 30 years. The spread of alien fish species such as the Carp Cyprinus carpio, which compete with Pochard for food resources, is a problem in the Mediterranean region. Changing predation pressures (in some cases linked to invasive alien mammals) are also implicated in some areas. Relatively modest numbers breeding in the UK, France and the Netherlands have remained stable or increased over the same recent span of years, confirming that different factors currently affect Pochard breeding abundance throughout its range. We urgently need better information relating to key factors affecting Pochard breeding success and abundance, which is currently showing an unfavourable conservation status throughout much of Europe.
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Using field data on fecundity, age at first reproduction and adult life expectancy, we reconsider the so-called r-K gradient by analyzing relationships between these three demographic parameters in 80 mammal species and 114 bird species. After the allometric effect of adult body weight is removed, the three variables remain correlated. The existence of demographic tactics which are independent of adult body weight is demonstrated by multivariate analyses of these variables. These analyses confirm the importance of ecological and phylogenetic constraints. The main structure is a time-scale gradient ranking species according to turn-over, both in birds and mammals. A second gradient ranking species according to iteroparity level appears significantly both in birds and mammals. In mammals, this pattern is related to patterns of parental investment.
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Species are responding to climate change by changing their distributions, creating debate about the effectiveness of existing networks of protected areas. As a contribution to this debate, we assess whether regional winter abundances and distribution of the Smew Mergellus albellus, a migratory waterbird species listed on Annex I (EU Birds Directive) that overwinters exclusively in European wetlands, changed during 1990–2011, the role of global warming in driving distributional changes and the effectiveness of the network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs, EU Birds Directive) in the context of climate change. Europe. We used site-specific counts (6,883 sites) from 16 countries covering the entire flyway to estimate annual abundance indices and trends at country, region (north-eastern, central and south-western) and flyway scales, inside and outside SPAs. We fitted autoregressive models to assess the effect of winter temperature on the annual abundance indices whilst accounting for autocorrelation. The Smew wintering distribution shifted north-eastwards in Europe in accordance with the predictions of global warming, with increasing numbers in the north-eastern region and declines in the central region. Trends in wintering numbers were more positive in SPAs on the north-eastern and south-western part of the flyway. However, a large proportion of the wintering population remains unprotected in north-eastern areas outside of the existing SPA network. SPAs accommodated climate-driven abundance changes in the north-eastern region of the wintering distribution by supporting increasing numbers of Smew in traditional and newly colonized areas. However, we highlight gaps in the current network, suggesting that urgent policy responses are needed. Given rapid changes in species distributions, we urge regular national and international assessments of the adequacy of the EU Natura 2000 network to ensure coherence in site-safeguard networks for this and other species.
Technical Report
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Bulletin technique de l’Administration de la nature et des forêts en matière de gestion de la faune sauvage et de chasse Dans notre société, une information détaillée est souvent d’une importance capitale. C’est dans cette optique que l’Administration de la nature et des forêts vise une information efficace des locataires de chasse et du grand public en matière de gestion de la faune sauvage et de chasse. Ceci est réalisé par le biais d’un bulletin technique. Technischer Bericht der Naturverwaltung betreffend Wildtiermanagement und Jagd Information ist in unserer Gesellschaft von immer größer werdender Wichtigkeit. In diesem Sinn will die Naturverwaltung im Bereich Wildtiermanagement und Jagd eine qualitativ hochwertige Information der Jagdpächter und der breiten Öffentlichkeit anbieten. Dies wird mittels eines technischen Berichts durchgeführt.
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Change in the size of populations over space and time is, arguably, the motivation for much of pure and applied ecological research. The fundamental model for the dynamics of any population is straightforward: the net change in the abundance is the simple difference between the number of individuals entering the population and the number leaving the population, either or both of which may change in response to factors intrinsic and extrinsic to the population. While harvest of individuals from a population constitutes a clear extrinsic source of removal of individuals, the response of populations to harvest is frequently complex, reflecting an interaction of harvest with one or more population processes. Here we consider the role of these interactions, and factors influencing them, on the effective harvest management of waterfowl populations. We review historical ideas concerning harvest and discuss the relationship(s) between waterfowl life histories and the development and application of population models to inform harvest management. The influence of population structure (age, spatial) on derivation of optimal harvest strategies (with and without explicit consideration of various sources of uncertainty) is considered. In addition to population structure, we discuss how the optimal harvest strategy may be influenced by: 1) patterns of density-dependence in one or more vital rates, and 2) heterogeneity in vital rates among individuals within an age-sex-size class. Although derivation of the optimal harvest strategy for simple population models (with or without structure) is generally straightforward, there are several potential difficulties in application. In particular, uncertainty concerning the population structure at the time of harvest, and the ability to regulate the structure of the harvest itself, are significant complications. We therefore review the evidence of effects of harvest on waterfowl populations. Some
I analyzed data from the 1984 and 1986 Federal Waterfowl Hunter Questionnaire Survey (WHQS) to estimate the rate of return of name and address contact cards, to evaluate the efficiency of the Survey's stratification scheme, and to investigate potential sources of bias due to nonresponse at the contact card and questionnaire stages of the Survey. Median response at the contact card stage was 0.200 in 1984 and 0.208 in 1986, but was lower than 0.100 for many sample post offices. Large portions of the intended sample contributed little to the final estimates in the Survey. Differences in response characteristics between post office size strata were detected, but size strata were confounded with contact card return rates; differences among geographic zones within states were more pronounced. Large biases in harvest and hunter activity due to nonresponse were not found; however, consistent smaller magnitude biases were found. Bias in estimates of the proportion of active hunters was the most pronounced effect of nonresponse. All of the sources of bias detected would produce overestimates of harvest and activity. Redesigning the WHQS, including use of a complete list of waterfowl hunters and resampling nonrespondents, would be needed to reduce nonresponse bias.
Nonrespondents to a postal harvest questionnaire conducted in New Zealand in 1987 and 1988 were surveyed by telephone. I compared reported mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) harvest, hours hunted, and ducks shot per hour between those who did and those who did not respond to the postal questionnaire. Mallard harvest and hours hunted were less for nonrespondents than for respondents, but estimates of ducks shot per hour were not significantly different. Harvest estimates based solely on questionnaire respondents were about 20% higher than estimates that included information from nonrespondents. There was evidence that nonresponse bias changed between years.