THE HISTORY OF MOOSE IN THE BALTIC COUNTRIES
This paper presents a first analysis of the development of the moose (Alces alces alces L.) population in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania prior to 1997. Archaeological and documentary materials prove that moose had been living in the present Baltic countries in the second half of the early Holocene. Until the 1960’s, the population numbers were relatively small. From 1961 to 1971, the moose population for all of Estonia was surveyed. The work was continued from 1972 to 1974 and again in 1979. In 1987, investigations into population numbers, composition, and growth were initiated in all 3 countries. Maximum populations probably occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In Lithuania there were 15,000; Latvia, 45,000; and in Estonia, up to 20,000. the 4 to 4 fold decrease in the 1990’s has been the result of poaching and predation (bears and wolves). In 1996 and 1997 the population levels in Estonia were on the level of 6,000 to 7,000, in Latvia about 7,000, and in Lithuania 3,800 individuals. The future of moose in the Baltic states is greatly dependent on human influences. Cooperative research work is required in order to preserve the population composition and genetic diversity. A continuous population management program, fixed harvest quotas, and habitat preservation are of prime importance.
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