Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Prohibit or restrict hunting of particular sex/ breeding status/age animals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of prohibiting or restricting hunting of particular sex, breeding status or age animals. Both studies were in the USA.




Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, before-and-after study in 1984–2000 in three forest and shrubland sites in Washington, USA (Bender et al. 2002) found that limiting hunting of adult male elk Cervus canadensis resulted in an increase in the numbers of males relative to females, but no change in numbers of calves relative to females. After hunting restrictions commenced, there were more male relative to female elk (6.7–12.9 males/100 females) than before hunting restrictions commenced (2.7–5.7 males/100 females). The abundance of calves relative to female elk did not change (after: 21–37 calves/100 females; before: 30–37 calves/100 females). The strategy of open-entry yearling hunting and limited hunting of elk ≥ 2.5 years old with branched antlers was introduced at one site in 1989 and at two sites in 1994. These sites were monitored in 1984–2000 and 1991–2000 respectively and covered 2,300–4,500 km2. Elk were counted from helicopters, and categorised by age and sex, in late February or early March each year.


A replicated, before-and-after study in 1983–1998 of four deer management areas in a largely forested region of Colorado, USA (Bishop et al. 2005) found that restricting the harvest of male mule deer Odocoileus hemionus did not increase the number of fawns/adult female deer. After introduction of hunting restrictions, the fawn:adult female deer ratio declined by 7.5 fawns:100 adult females (absolute numbers not presented). During this time, harvests of male deer fell from an average of 788/management area/year to 209/management area/year and the ratio of male:female deer increased by 4.5:100 female deer. Harvests of male deer were unlimited up to 1990. Commencing in 1991 (one area), 1992 (two areas) and 1995 (one area), restrictions were imposed on harvests of male deer, resulting in a fall in average harvests from 788/year pre-restriction to 209/year post-restriction. Aerial deer surveys were carried out in December–January.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.