A preliminary assessment of shorebird harvest in coastal Guyana


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1 April 22

Brad A. Andres, Leon Moore, Amelia R. Cox, Barbara Frei, Christian Roy


Brad A. Andres
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 504, Lakewood, CO 80228, USA


Public Files

Shorebirds have been harvested for centuries on Caribbean islands and along the northern coast of South America. Although the magnitude of modern harvest pressure on shorebirds within this region is incompletely quantified, accumulating evidence indicates that harvest could limit the growth of certain shorebird populations. Central to understanding the effect of harvest on shorebird populations is the need for current quantitative assessments of harvest. To begin filling this need, we determined the number of sites where harvest occurred along the coast of Guyana in 2017 and 2018 and compared that to surveys conducted in 2001–2002. During fall 2020, we estimated the number of shorebirds harvested at two coastal sites and sold in one community market. We also conducted periodic shorebird surveys to characterize the phenology and species composition of the post-breeding migration. Although the occurrence of harvest at coastal sites has likely declined over the last two decades, we estimated that approximately 37,000 shorebirds were harvested at two sites and sold in one market during the post-breeding period of 2020. Given the limited scale of our study, the total harvest along the country’s entire coast was undoubtedly greater. Small Calidris sandpipers dominated the post-breeding migratory shorebird assemblage and, along with the Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus, were most abundant in the harvest. Shorebird harvest in Guyana exceeded that of all Caribbean islands combined where harvest estimates were available. The lack of a national policy to regulate the harvest of migratory shorebirds poses a significant challenge to achieving a sustainable shorebird harvest in Guyana and ultimately across the region. A more complete characterization of the social aspects of the harvest, including the economic impact, is needed to support the development of strategies to promote shorebird conservation that are acceptable to the local harvesters, commercial vendors, and conservation stakeholders.