Using ground-based shooting to successfully manage overabundant pest animals

Using ground-based shooting to successfully manage overabundant pest animals

Researchers from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have joined forces to review the use of ground-based shooting for the management of overabundant pest animals.

The paper, published in Wildlife Research, systematically reviewed three online databases for case studies undertaken between 1980 and 2017. The literature search provided 64 case studies which met the search term requirements. Case studies were from Australia, NZ, Europe, Asia, the Americas and relevant ocean islands.

For population management of overabundant wildlife, the key take home messages from the review include:

  • Ground-based shooting can help to reduce pest animal densities and damage, but shooting operations often fail because they are applied poorly or for the wrong reasons.
  • Ground-based shooting is inefficient and difficult to apply effectively. Managers need to seriously consider whether it’s the best tool for the job.
  • Shooting operations need clear, measured objectives and they need to have adequate resources to achieve those objectives. This review found professional shooters were more likely to achieve objectives versus harvest-oriented or volunteer shooters.

The research team questioned how consistently ground-shooting operations achieved pest animal management objectives and what commonalities existed between shooting programs where effective outcomes were delivered.

The review showed  ground-shooting has been used in a wide variety of ways to attempt to reduce the negative impacts of many different species of mammals, in landscapes ranging from suburbs to sub-Antarctic islands. This diversity, combined with the scarcity of measurable objectives in the studies, made it difficult to answer the two review questions.  However, 41% of operations, which stated a measurable objective, failed to achieve their objectives.

This research review was funded through the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions project ‘Cost-effective management of wild deer’, led by  NSW Department of Primary Industries senior research scientist, Dr Dave Forsyth.

Article citation: Bengsen, A. J., Forsyth, D. M., Harris, S., Latham, A. D. M., McLeod, S. R., & Pople, A. A systematic review of ground-based shooting to control overabundant mammal populations. Wildlife Research.

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