Hunting suitability model – a new tool for managing wild ungulates

Submitted by editor on 8 February 2022.

By Paul Griesberger, Leopold Obermair, Josef Zandl, Gabrielle Stalder, Walter Arnold, Klaus Hackländer

In many regions worldwide, effective wildlife management in human-dominated landscapes is important due to increasing numbers of wild ungulates. This is especially true in mountain ranges like the European Alps, where damages to forests caused by wild ungulates not only lead to economic losses but also threaten the integrity and functionality of other forest functions, like the protection against landslides and avalanches. To diminish damages like browsing or bark stripping and thus mitigate human-wildlife conflicts while ensuring viable ungulate populations, sustainable management is required. Concerning this matter, hunting can play an important role by altering the spatial distribution of ungulate species in the landscape and reducing their numbers through harvesting to reach a population size with favourable sex and age structure. Current hunting practices often fail in this context, however, as many ungulates like red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), or white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) respond to the presence of humans through an avoidance behaviour to reduce the probability of being harvested. To counteract this phenomenon, tools to inform sustainable management of these species are urgently needed.

In this paper we provide for the first time a hunting suitability model for wild ungulate management in mountainous landscapes to visualise hunting suitability objectively and realistically. Using red deer as a model species, we modelled hunting suitability with high spatial resolution (10 x 10 m), based on remote sensing information, field surveys, and expert knowledge of professional hunters. Further, we analysed spatio-temporal habitat selection by radio-collared deer in relation to locations of varying hunting suitability.

We found that red deer avoided areas suitable for hunting during daylight hours in the hunting season, but not during the night. We concluded that this species seems to perceive a landscape of heterogeneous anthropogenic predation risk, shaped by locations of various hunting suitability, as we modelled it.

In short and concerning wild ungulate management, our model provides high-resolution predictions of where species like red deer will retreat when perceived anthropogenic predation risk increases. The model also yields useful insights regarding the hunting suitability of particular locations, which is valuable information especially for non-locals. Furthermore, our model can serve as planning tool to inform decisions about where particular hunting strategies can be performed most efficiently to manage wild ungulates and therefore minimize human-wildlife conflicts.


Photos were taken by Paul Griesberger and Josef Zandl






Manhattan’s wild pigeons killed for sport by out-of-state gun clubs

Activists claim that pigeon pirates are roaming Manhattan, capturing wild pigeons to sell in out-of-state gun clubs where they will be slaughtered for sport.

The trusting pigeons are frequently attracted into groups with seeds and other types of food before being captured in nets and tossed into vans for transportation.

Two accounts have surfaced recently of pigeon pirates scouring Manhattan streets and capturing dozens of wild pigeons.

On January 8, a man shared a video on Instagram of a pigeon pirate loading his trunk with birds.

On January 16, a couple in Hell’s Kitchen witnessed two men using nets to capture roughly 50 pigeons before fleeing the scene.

After taking a picture of the pigeon pirates’ van, the couple filed a report with the police and New York’s Department of Conservation.

These are not the first instance of pigeon pirating, as in 2018, an animal activist accused a man of selling wild pigeons for $5 to $10 each to gun clubs.

This has struck a chord with many New Yorkers as pigeons are a big part of the city, and many residents are fond of them.

The birds are naturally trusting as they are used to being fed, making them more vulnerable to being captured.

An investigation is underway as stealing pigeons is illegal and can result in a $1,000 fine as well as one year in jail.

This article by Abigail Jane was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 3 February 2022. Lead Image Source : Duy Vo/Unsplash.

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Refuge & Hatchery Friends Photo Contest Winner— Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge — The National Wildlife Refuge Association

You may have heard about the first winner of the Friends Photo Contest and the refuge’s fantastic fungi in the Winter 2022 Edition of The Link. Nicole Souza’s stunning photos of fungi at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge caught our attention, so Assabet River NWR was featured for the month of December.

Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 3.5 square miles located within the Massachusetts towns of Hudson, Maynard, Stow, and Sudbury. The refuge is on the original homelands of the Nipmuc People. The name “Assabet” is likely from the Nipmuc dialect, but the exact meaning is uncertain. It seems to refer to the marshy nature of the area, described as meaning “the place where materials for making fishnet grows,” “a mire-y place,” and “at the place where the river turns back.” Indeed, the refuge features a large wetland complex, several smaller wetlands and vernal pools and large forested portions, which are important feeding and breeding areas for migratory birds and other wildlife.


Two new Cyornis and Zosterops bird species discovered on Borneo

Cyornis is a genus of passerine birds in the Muscicapidae family of Old World flycatchers.

This genus contains 25 presently known species, including several previously classified as Rhinomyias.

It is found in southern Asia, from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Indonesia.

The plumage of most Cyornis flycatchers is sexually dimorphic, with males being blue above and mostly blue and white or orange and white below, while a few species are sexually monomorphic and lack brilliant colors.

Zosterops is a genus of passerine birds in the Zosteropidae family that includes the common white-eyed birds.

Over 100 species are found in the Afrotropical, Indo-Malayan, and Australasian regions.

These birds are supreme island colonizers, which is why so many different white-eye species have evolved so rapidly, as different island populations become isolated and split off from their source population.

The most characteristic feature of Zosterops white-eyes is a conspicuous white feather ring around the eye, though some species lack it.

The Meratus white-eye in the Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan province, Indonesia, on July 9, 2016. Image credit: Eaton et al.

The new Cyornis and Zosterops species inhabit the Meratus Mountains of southeastern Borneo.

“The avian biodiversity and endemism of Borneo is impressive, with some 50 endemic species described from the island under earlier taxonomic arrangements,” said co-author James Eaton of Birdtour Asia Ltd. and his colleagues.

“Many of these are montane specialists, with around 27 species endemic to Borneo’s highlands.”

“Although the mountains of the Malaysian states, Sabah and Sarawak, are relatively well-explored, much of the montane part of Indonesia’s Kalimantan provinces has seldom been visited.”

“One of the least-known areas and probably the most isolated mountain range are the Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan province, a 140 km long north-south arc of uplands clothed with about 2,460 km2 of submontane and montane forest, rising to the 1,892 m summit of Gn Besar (several other peaks exceed 1,600 m).”

The new Cyornis species is most closely related to the Dayak blue flycatcher (Cyornis montanus) but morphologically distinguished by lighter blue on the upperparts and more whitish and less reddish on the underparts.

The new Zosterops species is most closely related to the lemon-bellied white-eye (Zosterops chloris) but distinguished by olive upperparts and darker underparts.

“Both new species are probably confined to the Meratus Mountains, which are currently surrounded by degraded lower elevation secondary woodland or converted agricultural landscape,” the researchers said.

“They appear to have diverged from their sister species through geographic isolation in this remote mountain range compounded by altered population dynamics in a depauperate montane bird community.”

“Although both species are relatively common in the restricted area of the Meratus Mountains, continued habitat alteration and the imminent threat of poaching may be in the process of endangering them.”

“Therefore, we recommend the IUCN Red List status of Vulnerable for the new species based on criteria B1 and B2.”

The Meratus flycatcher and white-eye are described in a paper published in the Journal of Ornithology.


M. Irham et al. Description of two new bird species from the Meratus Mountains of southeast Borneo, Indonesia. J Ornithol, published online January 11, 2022; doi: 10.1007/s10336-021-01937-2

J.A. Eaton et al. 2016 A short survey of the Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan province, Indonesia: two undescribed avian species discovered. BirdingASIA 26: 107-113

This article by Natali Anderson was first published by on 31 January 2022. Lead Image: The Meratus jungle flycatcher in the Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan province, Indonesia, on July 8, 2016. Image credit: Eaton et al.

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Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.


Refuge & Hatchery Friends Photography Contest — The National Wildlife Refuge Association

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is partnering with Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates to host a monthly photo contest for Refuge and Hatchery Friends groups across the country. The Friends Photo Contest started as an idea by the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates Facebook group last year and has quickly grown in engagement, you can read more about the contest here.

Each month in 2022, Friends can submit photos portraying various topics and be entered for a chance to win and be featured on the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates Facebook group and amplified through the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s Facebook page and Instagram account.


Coyote hunting contest in Ontario enrages animal rights groups

“Unfortunately, this cruel contest is planned to take place again this year,” the Toronto Wildlife Centre posted on its Facebook page. “A total of $2,500 in cash and awards will be awarded for the top five weights of coyotes who are senselessly slaughtered in the contest.”

Opponents accuse it of being a “inhumane event” that violates Section 11 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

The law expressly specifies that “a person shall not hunt for hire, gain, or hope of gain.”

However, the wildlife center claims that Chesher Outdoor Store was able to continue by slightly changing the contest regulations.

The coyote hunting contest runs from Feb. 1-28. Registration closed on Monday. Participants paid $20 to enter.

Store owner Billy Chesher wrote on his Facebook page that he has received “screaming phone calls and threats of violence, death, arson over people weighing in their coyotes that they have legally hunted.”

The Ontario Association of Anglers and Hunters has supported Chesher’s right to run the contest.

Organizers changed the rules last year because of provincial legislation.

“Based on consultation with the MNR we must modify our contest to exclude the prize per coyote as well as the prize for the most coyotes. Both have been determined to be promoting a bounty,” they wrote.

Prizes and cash will be based on the size and weight of the hunted coyotes.

The Toronto Wildlife Centre says it’s been joined by The Fur-Bearers and Coyote Watch Canada in opposing the hunt.

“Not only does this contest threaten the lives of coyotes for no reason, but it further threatens Algonquin wolves, a Species-at-Risk who look almost identical to Eastern coyotes,” the wildlife centre said.

The Fur-Bearers is encouraging people to write to Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, Greg Rickford.

The hunt organizer wrote that he faced aggressive opposition last year.

“We chose not to lay charges or seek compensation for damages to property,” Chesher wrote.

“My view from last year has changed after the multitude of threats of death, bodily harm, arson and other forms of property damage which simply are not warranted. These types of actions will not be tolerated this year.”

This article by Scott Laurie was first published by The Toronto Sun on 2 February 2022. Lead Image: The return of a month-long coyote hunt organized by an outdoor store in Belleville has animal rights groups outraged and again demanding Ontario step in to shut it down. PHOTO BY FACEBOOK /TORONTO WILDLIFE CENTRE.

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Hundreds of dead pheasants discarded in black bin bags

Disturbing images have emerged of two dozen dead pheasants casually discarded in black bin bags at a North Wales woodland.

Welfare campaigner Judi Hewitt said the discovery, near Tremeirchion, Denbighshire, was “yet more proof” of the disregard for bird life shown by many pheasant shoots.

She released the pictures as Wales’ environmental watchdog confirmed it is investigating a similar incident near Machynlleth, Powys.

Video footage obtained by Wales Online and taken at the Dyfi Falls beauty spot shows a man tossing armfuls of dead game birds into a fenced-off mineshaft.

Ms Hewitt claimed the latest images from Denbighshire show that game birds are being reared in large numbers not for food but purely for sport.

North Wales Police said the incident was a matter for Denbighshire Council.

She added: “The fact these birds were dumped is yet more proof that pheasant shooting is just killing for fun, using pheasants as living targets,” she said.

“The release of countless factory-farmed pheasants into the countryside for sport is not only morally wrong, it’s bad for the environment.”

The two-minute clip from Dyfi Falls in mids-Wales was captured by a trail camera close to the mineshaft entrance.

It appears to show a man dumping at least 45 dead pheasants and partridges into the opening, with more loaded up on a quad bike ready for disposal.

The footage was obtained by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), an animal welfare charity which campaigns to end commercial game shooting.

They set up the camera to obtain evidence after claiming to have seen a similar incident earlier this month.

LACS fears the dead pheasants and partridges dumped at Dyfi Falls could contaminate water flowing into the nearby River Llyfnant.

The mineshaft is also located next to the Pencreigiau’r Llan Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

LACS has passed the footage to Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which said it is investigating the claims.

NRW banned all pheasant shooting on its own woodland and nature reserves in 2019.

Chris Luffingham, LACS’ director of campaigns, claimed: “The film shows bird after bird being casually tossed into the cavern, next to one of Wales’ most sensitive and protected pieces of land.”

He went on to describe it as a “scandalous incident”.

According to Defra, some 61 million pheasants and partridges are released into the British countryside every year.

Studies by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust suggest a quarter of released pheasants die before the shooting season starts – mainly killed by foxes.

About one in six (16%) survive the shooting season and just over one in three (37.5%) are actually shot.

Judy Hewitt, from Rhyl is currently marking the 30th anniversary of North Wales Animal Rights, the welfare group she established in 1991.

She said: “Releasing countless birds into the environment, to compete with our dwindling indigenous wildlife, is a modern-day catastrophe.

“I did initially alert the police but they said it was a fly-tipping issue, not a police issue.

“However it was a very upsetting issue for me!”

North Wales Police (NWP) said that responsibility for waste crimes, which can affect waterways, lies mainly with NRW or local councils, who may ask the police for support.

A spokesperson for the NWP rural crime team said: “With regard to this specific incident, it was brought to our attention on social media and we advised that it should be reported to the relevant local authority.

“To date, we have not been contacted by Denbighshire County Council in relation to this matter.”

Shooting estate responds to bird dumping video

The Dyfi Falls shooting estate, in Cwm Rhaeadr, is managed by Cheltenham-based Cambrian Birds Ltd.

In a statement, Cambrian Birds said the man pictured in the video no longer works for the company.

A spokesperson said: “All game shot on the shooting estates run by Cambrian Birds Ltd is processed through a certified game dealer, which then goes on for human consumption.

“Cambrian Birds allow their keepers to retain a certain number of birds for their personal consumption.

“We understand that in this instance the individual in question stripped the meat off the birds and thereafter disposed of the carcasses by throwing them into a disused mineshaft.

“Such a practice is contrary to the company rules and procedures.

“The individual in question was severely reprimanded and no longer works for the company.”

This article by Andrew Forgrave was first published by The Daily Post on 31 January 2022. Lead Image: Carcases of dead pheasants litter the undergrowth in woodland near Tremeirchion.

What you can do

Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.


5 ways that you can bring your garden back to life this summer

During the colder months, we can often neglect our gardens. The cold weather has crept in, and that once luscious green space has started to look rather dull. 

Luckily, there are plenty of things that you can do to bring your garden back to life, ready for those sunny summer months. Take a look at these top tips below to help you get started. 

Clear Out Old Debris

Every garden revamp starts with a good old clean up. After the winter, you may find that weeds, debris, leaves and rock appear in your garden, and it can start to look a little bit messy. So, you should always make it your first job to clear these away. That way, you will have a blank canvas to work with. Weeds can be a pain to deal with. To ensure that you get rid of them completely, you should always pull them from the root. 

If you struggle to get rid of the weeds in your garden, it is probably because they have been left for too long. When this happens, they can flower and go to seed. Luckily, there are plenty of weed killer products on the market. It is recommended that you read some online reviews to help you find the best ones. 

Welcome Wildlife

During the colder months, a lot of the wildlife that once visited your garden has gone into hibernation. As the weather starts to warm up, you will notice these fantastic woodland creatures begin to come back. There are some things that you can do to welcome them with open arms. There are a few things that you can do to make your garden wildlife-friendly, so it is teeming with life and activity. Trees and shrubs provide shelter for animals like birds and hedgehogs, whilst birdbaths offer a fresh water supply. 

Finding garden bird food and wildlife supplies has never been easier with the help of the internet. Take a look at Little Peckers, an online store packed full of wildlife goodies. Now, you can order the supplies you need to replenish your garden and bring it back to life. All from the comfort of your own home – perfect! 

Keep Pests Away

Garden pests can come in all shapes and sizes. Not only can they destroy the plants in your garden, but they can also warn some wildlife away. To help you make the most of your outdoor space and protect your plants, you should aim to do what you can to keep pests at bay, but how do you achieve this?

You may be surprised to know that the placement of your plants can have an effect. You should avoid overcrowding your space. Although plants can certainly bring your garden to life, overcrowding them can bring along a list of problems. Ideally, it would help if you spaced plants far apart, giving them more room to breathe. Plants packed close together can soon become a breeding ground for insects. 

Replenish The Soil

If you plan on planting new plants in your garden, ready for the summer, you will need to replenish your soil. After the winter, harsh weather conditions can cause your soil to dry out and become packed. You’ll find that your plants will not survive if you don’t sort this out. Luckily, you can buy a soil test online or down at your local garden centre. These tests tell you what nutrients and minerals your soil needs. 

It is highly recommended that you use a test like this as it will also end up saving you money in the long run. You’ll be able to pick up the exact number of products you need instead of overspending or buying the wrong products. You can learn more about the effectiveness of soil tests by conducting some online research. 

Incorporate Colour With New Plants

What better way to bring your garden back to life than with an array of colourful plants? The plants you choose to incorporate into your garden will require a lot of thought. Not all plants, shrubs and trees will be suitable for your garden. Assess the size of your outdoor space. This will give you a realistic idea of what you can fit in. With the help of a soil test, you can assess your soil type, and this will also guide you in the right direction. 

There are a lot of things to consider. Is your garden shaded or sunny? What types of wildlife are you hoping to attract? Taking time to answer those all-important questions will help you find the right plants for your garden. If you are unsure, take this information down to your local garden centre or use online resources to seek advice. 


With the help of these top tips above, you will be well on your way to giving your outdoor space a new lease of life. Gardening is certainly not an easy task at times, and it does require a lot of time and patience. Try to stay on top of the upkeep, make sure those pesky weeds keep at bay and most importantly – have fun.


Reducing Light Pollution From Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches In Puerto Rico — The National Wildlife Refuge Association

Light pollution, as a result of urban development on the coast, represents one of the 5 biggest threats sea turtles face. During the last year, 75 properties in 15 coastal municipalities of Puerto Rico have joined the effort to reduce light pollution in the sea turtle nesting beaches. Although there is a lot to do, every property we add is an achievement we celebrate! Check out our latest Story Map, below, where we present this problem in Puerto Rico and what the National Wildlife Refuge Association is doing to reduce it.


Giant alligator killed by Florida hunter after mysterious livestock disappearances

A huge alligator estimated to be 80 years old has been killed by a hunter in south Florida.

The alligator had been linked with the mystery disappearance of livestock in Okeechobee County, leading professional hunter Doug Borries to intervene.

The Mississippi man said he shot and killed the animal on private property near Okeechobee.

“I had no idea the magnitude of how big his body was until we pulled him completely out of the lake,” Borries told McClatchy News. “It had been suspected of eating some of the local livestock around the lake and was considered a threat.”

A channel affiliated with Borries called Dynamic Outdoors TV said in a Facebook post that the animal was thought to be the largest ever alligator killed by a non-resident hunter in Florida.

The post said that the animal weighed 905 pounds and measured 13 feet and four inches.

Images accompanying the post showed Borries in various poses with the alligator, highlighting its enormous size and large jaws.

Alligators are found in all of Florida’s 67 counties. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) estimated there are approximately 1.3 million of the animals living in the state.

Alligator hunting is legal in Florida under a number of regulations. Conservation of the animals at the state level is combined with a statewide recreational alligator harvest that was launched by the FWC in 1988. Harvest permits that allow the animals to be killed can be obtained from the state under strict guidelines. Hatchlings and endangered species, for example, are off limits.

Adult alligators typically grow between six and 12 feet long and can weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds, making the individual killed by Borries among the largest specimens found in the state recently.

FWC said that the Florida state record for a found alligator was 14 feet 3.5 inches in Lake Washington in Brevard County. The heaviest animal recorded in the state was found in Orange Lake, Alachua County. It weighed 1,043 pounds.

Borries said he had staked the 13-foot alligator out the night before while at the property where he made the kill.

The Dynamic Outdoors TV Facebook post said that the Mississippi man had shot the animal from a distance of 321 yards. It said that the alligator was believed to be over 80 years old.

Replying to comments, Dynamic Outdoors TV said the alligator had become a “safety hazard” for the elderly farmer and his family as the reptile had been “feasting on livestock.”

This article by Orlando Jenkinson was first published by Newsweek on 2 February 2022. Lead Image: A stock image of an alligator. Doug Berries said the animal he shot was over 13 feet long and weighed 905 pounds. The Florida record for the heaviest alligator recorded in the state was over 1,000 pounds. WILLIAMHC/GETTY IMAGES.

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