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The ecology and economic importance of the moose in the region around the shores of the Rybinsk water reservoir


, : The ecology and economic importance of the moose in the region around the shores of the Rybinsk water reservoir. Tr Darvinsk Gos Zapovednika 7: 175-246

Development of the Rybinsk reservoir created habitat conditions favorable for moose. In spring, willow leaves make up to 40% of the elk's food, grassy vegetation 20%. At this time distribution of moose is determined by the occurrence of willows (mainly Salix cinerea and S. pentandra). In winter the following are major foods: pine shoots with needles and bark (51%), willows (20%), and juniper (12%). At this time moose are concentrated where young pine trees have grown on cleared areas and on abandoned fields of villages which have moved out of the flood zones. In the Darvinskii Game Preserve area, seasonal migrations of moose were not marked. There were no strict differences between summer and winter habitats although in winter the animals occupied a considerably smaller area. In summer they are solitary, or more rarely 2-3 are found together. The average group however, consists of 1.7 head. In winter, this value is 2.1 but as many as 12-18 have been seen in a herd. In winter, moose fed 40% of the day. as seen from an airplane in Jan. -April between 12 M and 4 p.m.; 82% of moose found were lying down. The distance that they walked in a day during this time varied from 0.4 to 4 km, with an average distance of 2 km. In the game preserve the ungulates were not afraid of people, approached populated localities and sometimes herds of horses, and allowed machines and tractors to approach within 20-50 m. Estrus lasted from Aug. 25-Oct.16. On the average, the first calves were found between April 20 and May 12. In spring and summer, 43% of the mothers had twins and 57% single calves. In February, 22.3% of the herd consisted of calves in their first year. Females outnumbered males among adults in the herd. Mortality was high and caused chiefly by wolves (88%). Death also occurred from bears (4%), from the freezing of rivers or the formation of flows (4%), from diseases (3%), and as a result of fighting during estrus (1%). The number of moose increased between 1948 (350 head) and 1954 (530 head/600 km2), but the herd has decreased since 1956, and in 1958 was at the 1948 level. Variation in number is explained by changes in the winter food base. In recent years, the pine stands have grown up and become unavailable. This is why moose have been observed eating foods not characteristic for them, such as spruce bark. There has been a reduction in the number with twins. A further reduction in the number of moose is anticipated. The rate at which young pine trees are damaged depends on how well the animals are provided with other winter pasturage. In the game preserve, where there are 7 ha. of young trees per moose, 58% of the trees have been damaged. On the Ulomsk forestry farm 24% damage has occurred where there are 23 ha per moose. In the Ves'egonskii forestry farm where there are 57 ha. per moose, there is 1% damage, Aspens, in particular, have been destroyed in places and, in sequence, pines at the edges of plantations and in scattered stands in tundra. For this reason, pine cultures should be protected by close planting. It is recommended that 10-12% of the moose be shot, and that there be a systematic extermination of the wolves.

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