Background: The moose (Alces alces) is an intensively managed keystone species in Fennoscandia. Several aspects of reproduction in moose have not been fully elucidated, including puberty, timing of mating and oestrus, and the length of the oestrus period. These aspects are relevant for an adaptive management of moose with respect to harvest, population size, demography and environmental conditions. Therefore, an investigation of female moose reproduction was conducted during the moose-hunting period in southern Sweden from 2008 to 2011. Results: A total of 250 reproductive organs and information on carcass weight and age was collected from four different hunting areas (provinces of Öland, Småland, Södermanland, and Västergötland) in southern Sweden. The results showed that puberty in female moose varied with carcass weight, age, and time of season. The period for oestrous/mating lasted from about mid September to the beginning of November. Conclusions: The oestrus period (predominantly for heifers) is longer than previously reported and was not finished when the hunting period started. Sampling the uterine cervix to detect spermatozoa was a useful method to determine if mating had occurred. To avoid hunting of moose during oestrus, we suggest that the hunting period should be postponed by at least 14 days in southern Sweden.
- Ovulation rate