Last Wednesday we have had a meeting with representatives of the Doubs Hunting Federation (http://www.fdc25.com/) and by conducting a small presentation, they have observed how the project is progressing, the main questions to study, etc.
One of the ways in which the Doubs Hunting Federation is going to help is by providing data from spotlight counts near our study sites as an additional estimate of fox abundance. They collect this data in early Spring approximately, with the collaboration of many hunters that voluntarily do this excellent work and that helps to know the trends of hunting species and many other species related to hunting, like predators. One of the examples of the use of this data is the article (Jacquot et al. 2013, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12151/abstract), in which is shown the population decline of red foxes after bromadiolone treatment. Similar results have also been shown in Spain, with negative trends of the red kite populations in locations with vole outbreaks and repeated use of anticoagulant rodenticides (Mougeot et al. 2011). See complete reference here:
Mougeot, F., Garcia, J. T., & Viñuela, J. (2011). Breeding biology, behaviour, diet and conservation of the red kite (Milvus milvus), with particular emphasis on Mediterranean populations. In I. Zuberogoitia & J. Martínez (Eds.), Ecology and conservation of European dwelling forest raptors (pp. 190–204). Departamento de Agricultura de la Diputación Foral de Bizkaia.
Another recent contribution from FDC25 is the PhD thesis of Guillaume Halliez (https://chrono-environnement.univ-fcomte.fr/spip.php?article2235). One of the main objectives of this thesis was to study predation at low vole densities. In this situation, prey like hunting species could suffer higher predation rates due to lower food availability for predators. See reference here:
Halliez, G. (2015) Pratiques, Prédateurs, Proies, Pullulation de Campagnols prairiaux et Biodiversité. PhD Thesis. Laboratoire Chrono-environnement and Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs du Doubs.
During the meeting we also discussed about the collection of small mustelid samples from trapped individuals to have more information of their exposure to bromadiolone, in regard to other factors like age, sex, sites, etc.
Moreover, we are also going to work in dissemination of information to the public and hunters in particular. For instance, we will conduct a seminar at the Doubs Hunting Federation to present the project and more general issues related to interactions between hunting species and predators. The PhD thesis of Javier Fernandez-de-Simon showed several examples of relationships between predators and hunting species like rabbits in central southern Spain (see some references in https://chrono-environnement.univ-fcomte.fr/spip.php?article1954). In addition, we will collaborate in the day with the hunters in October (http://www.fdc25.com/doubs-chasse-nature/273-permis-territoire-chasseur/un-dimanche-a-la-chasse.php).
It is important to note that even if the hunters shoot foxes, the Doubs Hunting Federation do not want foxes to be poisoned and with long-term suffering of animals for ethical reasons. Death, if happening, has to be quick, so the animal does not suffer for hours or days, as it may be the case with poisoning.