Kawata, Y., Ozolinš, J. and Andersone-Lilley, Ž. 2008. An Analysis of the Game Animal Population Data from Latvia. Baltic Forestry, 14 (1): 75-86

Large carnivores such as the wolf (Canis lupus) and the lynx (Lynx lynx) have never been eradicated in Latvia and their numbers particularly increased from the early 1970s onwards, which brought some conflict between the large carnivores and human interests. Therefore, it has always been a challenge for both gamekeepers and conservationists to reveal relationships between ungulates and large carnivores as well as to figure out relevant implications for their management.
The purpose of this paper is to reveal the above-mentioned relationships using statistical data. Fortunately, statistics on the abundance and hunting bag size of some game species in Latvia have been collected since the early 20th century. The study uses these data to examine four types of relationship within the period of 1958 - 2005: (1) prey-prey relationships between the population estimates of moose (Alces alces), red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), (2) predator-prey relationships in the above four ungulate species, wolf and lynx; (3) relationships between the estimated numbers of wolf and lynx; (4) relationships among hunting bags in some of the species listed above. We applied unit root test to check if our statistical results suffered from the spurious correlation. We used regression analysis (dynamic OLS and generalized least square) to reveal statistical findings and examine them from the ecological point of view in order to check the validity of our results.
Our statistical results suggest that (1) For the red deer, roe deer is a competitor and vice versa. For the roe deer, moose is also a competitor in addition to the red deer. For the moose, red deer is a competitor. (2) For the wolf, red deer, roe deer and moose are prey whereas for the lynx, only roe deer is prey. (3) For lynx, wolf is a competitor, but for the wolf, lynx is not. (4) The elasticity of hunting with respect to population size is 2.55%, 0.91%, 2.14, 0.42% and 0.82%, for roe deer, red deer, moose, wolf and lynx respectively. Most of the results are consistent with empirical findings from the field.

Key words: population dynamics; game statistics; game animals, spurious correlation