Research of hunting pressure impact on waterfowl and semiaquatic birds in the Northern regions of Russia

Research of hunting pressure impact on waterfowl and semiaquatic birds in the Northern regions of Russia

The number of birds captured during hunting is one of the key parameters that needs to be evaluated in order to develop an effective strategy for conservation and sustainable use of their population. Bird hunting is much more important for the local population in the north than in the south, and the northern areas are key habitats of many game and rare bird species. In this regard, bird harvesting from populations due to hunting can be very substantial in the north. In addition, for the northern indigenous population hunting has important cultural and socio-economic significance as a type of traditional nature usage and as a means of providing families with food.

A special method is required to assess bird harvest by hunters. During its development we used the experience of Fish and Wild Service Alaska, in particular the method for Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, the largest wetland in Alaska and a place where locals annually harvest more than 100 000 birds (Wentworth, 1998).  We adopted the principles of this method almost unchanged; at the same time, it was adapted to the conditions of Russia and significantly expanded in the course of the research.

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In the current form, the method includes:

•          expert informal interviews;

•          anonymous survey of hunters;

•          analysis of bird harvest data collected by hunting societies;

•          analysis and interpretation of ring recoveries of various bird species available in the Bird Ringing Centre (Moscow);

•          cartographic method for the analysis and interpretation of the received data.


On      the whole, bird hunting in the north of Russia in the last twenty years had a tendency to decline in connection with enactment of stricter fire arms laws and increased police activity. At the same time, the emergence of new off-road vehicles in the last years contributes to the active intrusion of people such as tourists from far-away places as well as locals into hunting lands that were inaccessible only recently.

Our studies started in 1999 were aimed at conducting a primary inventory of bird hunting in Arctic villages of Yakutia and Chukotka. 22 villages were surveyed in 7 years. In 2007-2008 the same method was used to survey several villages in the European North: on Kolguev island and Kanin peninsula.



We are currently studying the impact of hunting pressure on waders in the Russian part of the East Asian–Australasian flyway. Within the flyway wader hunting is one of the two most important factors of the population decline together with anthropogenic changes in habitats in the tidal zone. Large waders such as whimbrels and some other species (including godwits) are harvested in large quantities in several regions of Russia, primarily in Kamchatka. However, they are not the only ones getting shot. According to the data of satellite tagging, three of the nine cases when spoon-billed sandpipers transmitters stopped working happened in Kamchatka.

A significant number of waders is harvested by people who come here as part of groups fishing Far Eastern salmon in the coastal areas situated far from villages. Fishermen carry hunting rifles for protection from bears and for shooting seals.

According to the preliminary data, hunting waders in the Far East of Russia is especially dangerous for the following species:

•          whimbrels and other large waders (godwits, whom the hunters sometimes refer to as "berry-pickers with straight beaks)";

•          far eastern curlew which is deliberately shot during hunt for whimbrel;

•          spoon-billed sandpiper  – due to extremely low population size (approximately 200 nesting pairs), harvest of even few birds can cause irreparable damage to the population;

•          perhaps, also for some other wader species. The results obtained can be useful for improving the use of hunting species resources, developing resource-saving support strategies for the traditional types of nature use by the indigenous peoples of the North as well as for the global and regional programs for the conservation of rare bird species.

Map of bird harvest in arctic villages of Yakutia and Chukotka (extrapolation of the anonymous survey results).

Project coordinators:

            Konstantin Borisovich Klokov

            (k. b. klokov @

            Evgeny Evgenievich Syroechkovsky

            (ees_jr @

            Yuri Nikolaevich Gerasimov

            (bird @


Лого РГГ.jpgThe project is carried out in cooperation with the Working group on Waders Northern Eurasia

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