In Europe, the majority of driven pheasant shooting is supported by the release of captivereared pheasants to increase numbers of birds available to hunters. In Austria, as in the rest of Europe, intensification of agriculture has contributed to the decline of wild pheasant populations during the last 40 years. However, high densities of wild pheasants can still be found in some areas. Seefeld Estate, a 2400ha farm in Lower Austria, has among the highest densities of wild pheasants in Europe. Spring densities of over 100 hens/km2 have been measured on areas of this efficient and productive modern arable farming estate. Imaginative management of set-aside, game cover and field margins, combined with targeted predation control, have enabled an annual sustainable harvest of wild pheasants to be maintained. The annual harvest in the last 10 years has ranged from 16 to 54 birds/km2. Seefeld has maintained these higher densities in a region where wild pheasants have otherwise declined (current mean annual harvest = 4 birds/km2). This paper discusses the main factors responsible for high pheasant densities at Seefeld Estate and their implications for wild pheasant management in Europe. In addition, we will discuss the added conservation benefits accrued on Seefeld Estate because of wild pheasant management.
European Journal of Wildlife Research – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 9, 2005
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