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Assessment of risks to wildlife and animal welfare associated with Lodden, Sami traditional hunting of ducks in spring. Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Biodiversity of the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment

Vitenskapelig oversiktsartikkel/review
VKM Report
Eksterne nettsted
Paul Ragnar Berg
Bjørnar Ytrehus, Jan Ove Bustnes, Bård-Jørgen Bårdsen, Katrine Eldegard, Kyrre Kausrud, Brett Sandercock, Paul Ragnar Berg, Anders Bryn, Sonya Rita Geange, Erik Georg Bø-Granquist, Kjetil Hindar, Lars Robert Hole, Johanna Järnegren, Lawrence R. Kirkendall, Anders Nielsen, Erlend Birkeland Nilsen, Gaute Velle


Background Spring hunting for ducks (Lodden in Northern Sami) is part of the Sami hunting and trapping culture. In Norway, this traditional hunting has been permitted in Kautokeino Municipality in accordance with the exception provision in the Wildlife Act Section 15, with quotas for males of several duck species. However, hunting in the spring may be in conflict with the Nature Diversity Act's principle for species management, saying (quote from Section 15): “Unnecessary harm and suffering caused to animals occurring in the wild and their nests, lairs and burrows shall be avoided. Likewise, unnecessary pursuing of wildlife shall be avoided.” Furthermore, in accordance with international legislation and agreements, the Wildlife Act (Section 9) states that the hunting season should not be set to the nesting and breeding season for the species in question. The Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA) asked VKM to (1) assess risk and risk-reducing measures on biodiversity and animal welfare when conducting spring hunting of ducks. The terms of reference were additionally clarified by the NEA to include assessments of the risks associated with hunting quotas of up to 150, 300, and 500 male individuals, on the populations of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), common scoter (Melanitta nigra), long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis), and red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator). VKM was furthermore asked to (2) point out risk-reducing measures in scenarios with hunting bags corresponding to the mentioned quotas of all the six species. Method VKM appointed a project group to answer the request from NEA and assess the risks to biodiversity and animal welfare posed by spring hunting for adult male ducks. The project group narrowed down the scope of the biodiversity risk assessment to encompass risks for local populations of six target species: mallard, tufted duck, velvet scoter, common scoter, long-tailed duck, and red-breasted merganser, and non-target migratory waterbirds. Negative impacts on biodiversity was defined as negative effects on population viability. The VKM project group gathered data from publications retrieved from literature searches and reports from Kautokeino municipality to the Finnmark Estate (Finnmarkseiendommen), which were made available to the group by the Norwegian Environment Agency. Hunting statistics were acquired from Statistics Norway (Statistisk sentralbyrå; SSB). During the assessment, several critical knowledge gaps and uncertainties were identified. The main obstacle for assessment of the impact of spring hunting on viability of local populations in Kautokeino, is the lack of data on relevant population sizes and demographic rates for the six target species. The available population estimates are partly based on almost 30-year-old bird counts. In addition, knowledge about spatial and temporal distributions of each species, combined with local or remote-sensed data on ice breakup, is needed to estimate the proportion of the population being effectively hunted in early spring when ducks are congregating on available ice-free waters. Such knowledge, combined with information about where, when, how and by how many hunters the hunting is performed, is also critical for sound assessments of risk to biodiversity and harm to bird welfare. Improved data on hunting bags (reliable, spatially explicit, and detailed) and frequency of wounding and crippling is also needed to provide accurate assessments. The project group performed modelling of harvest scenarios for a range of conditions (e.g., number of birds harvested, reduced breeding success caused by indirect effects of disturbance, environmental stochasticity, and spatial variation in habitat) to assess how sensitive the populations are to different parameters and model assumptions. ..............................