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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use wildlife refuges to reduce hunting impacts Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • Two studies evaluated the effects on mammal species of using wildlife refuges to reduce hunting impacts. One study was in Canada and one was in Mexico.



  • Abundance (2 studies): One of two replicated site comparison studies in Canada and Mexico found more moose in areas with limited hunting than in more heavily hunted areas. The other study found mixed results with only one of five species being more numerous in a non-hunted refuge.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, site comparison study in 1984 of 24 forest blocks in Quebec, Canada (Crête & Jolicoeur 1985) found more moose Alces alces in game reserves with limited hunting than in more heavily hunted areas. Games reserves held 0.28 moose/km2 compared to 0.06/km2 in adjacent hunted areas and 0.14/km2 in hunted areas ≥50 km away. Dispersal from game reserves was reported to sustain moose harvests in adjacent areas. Moose density was estimated by surveying 24 plots of 60 km2 each. Twelve plots were in areas that overlapped between game reserves with limited hunting (108 hunter-days/100 km2/year) and more heavily hunted adjacent areas (518 hunter-days/100 km2/year). Twelve plots were in hunting areas ≥50 km from a reserve (with 315 hunter-days/100 km2/year). Twelve transect lines/plot were surveyed from fixed-wing aircraft in January 1984.


A replicated, site comparison study in 2001 of four forest areas in Campeche, Mexico (Reyna-Hurtado & Tanner 2007) found that one of five ungulate species was more numerous in a non-hunted refuge area compared to in hunted areas and two were more numerous in hunted areas. There were more white-lipped peccaries Tayassu pecari in non-hunted (0.24 tracks/km) than hunted (0.08 tracks/km) areas. White-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus were more numerous in hunted areas (non-hunted: 0.24; hunted: 0.88 tracks/km) as was Central American tapir Tapirus bairdii (non-hunted: 0.03; hunted: 0.42 tracks/km). No differences between areas were found for brocket deer Mazama sp. (non-hunted: 6.4; hunted: 6.7 tracks/km) or collared peccary Pecari tajacu (non-hunted: 0.9; hunted: 1.0 tracks/km). Transects were established on land not hunted on since the 1980s, and on three adjacent hunted sites with similar habitat. Transects were ≥3 km from villages and had start points ≥2 km apart. Twenty-eight transects (total 57 km) were walked in the non-hunted area and 18–24 transects (35–70 km/site), were walked in hunted areas. Transects were walked in February–July 2001. Ungulate tracks within 1 m of transects were counted and recorded to species.

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.