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At the second European woodcock and snipe workshop held at Fordingbridge on the 30th March 1982 a paper on the Hunting Bags and Population of woodcock in Europe by I.R. Hepburn and the following passages are of interest: It (woodcock) is a legal quarry species through its range. The only other migratory species, which approaches this level of 'ubiquitous huntability', are the mallard and the woodpigeon. One of the basic questions about this bird concerns the size of the population. Population estimates exist from thirteen of the twenty-three breeding range states, but researchers argue that accurate breeding population estimates are impossible to achieve except at a very local scale. Better information exists concerning hunting bags, and it is through these data some insight may be gained into the order of magnitude of the 'autumn flight' population of European woodcock. The date in relation to hunting bags refer to the second half of 1970 and the total hunting kill for all range states at that time is estimated at 3.7 million woodcock a year. In summery the author, I.R. Hepburn, makes the following comments: Because of its secretive way of life the size of the woodcock (scolopax rusticola) population can hardly be estimated by direct observation. However, since this species is hunted throughout its range the numbers harvested combined with the proportion shot derived by ring recovery data may provide some insight. Recent bag estimates range around 3.7 million birds a year; ring recovery data suggest regional variation of hunting mortality between 10% and 25%, which leads to estimate the European autumn population as between 14.8 million and 37million birds. This was information which was estimated and today there is still the same difficulty in trying to estimate the overall population of this bird, the last word on the subject of population should go to Dr.Yves Ferrand and he comments, actually, it is very hard to know the numbers of wintering woodcock population everywhere. A total census of this secretive species is quite impossible and we can only follow the population trends through indexes. Moreover every winter is different to the other because of weather conditions, so the amount of wintering woodcock probably varies from one year to another.


 
General Des/Other Information | Roding | Where they Come From | Bag Returns and Population Densities |Research at Home
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