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Illegal killing of nongame wildlife is a global yet poorly documented problem. The prevalence and ecological consequences of illegal killing are often underestimated or completely unknown. We review the practice of legal recreational shooting and present data gathered from telemetry, surveys, and observations on its association with illegal killing of wildlife (birds and snakes) within conservation areas in Idaho, USA. In total, 33% of telemetered long‐billed curlews (Numenius americanus) and 59% of other bird carcasses found with known cause of death (or 32% of total) were illegally shot. Analysis of spatial distributions of illegal and legal shooting is consistent with birds being shot illegally in the course of otherwise legal recreational shooting, but snakes being intentionally sought out and targeted elsewhere, in locations where they congregate. Preliminary public surveys indicate that most recreational shooters find abhorrent the practice of illegal killing of wildlife. Viewed through this lens, our data may imply only a small fraction of recreational shooters is responsible for this activity. This study highlights a poorly known conservation problem that could have broad implications for some species and populations of wildlife.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.