The Struck-and-lost Factor in Alaskan Walrus Harvests, 1952-1972

  • Francis H. Fay
  • John J. Burns
  • Samuel W. Stoker
  • J. Scott Grundy
Keywords: Animal mortality, Animal population, Hunting, Walruses, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, St. Lawrence Island waters, Alaska


Struck-and-lost rates during hunts for walruses, Odobenus rosmarus (Linnaeus), in Alaska from 1952 to 1972 did not vary from year to year. On average, 42% of the animals struck by bullets were lost (i.e., not retrieved). About 55% of the struck-and lost animals died immediately; the rest were wounded. Apparently, most of the wounded died soon after they were struck. The sex-age composition of the struck-and-lost animals was about the same as that in the harvest, and the proportion lost did not vary with the size of the group encountered. Claims of reduction in loss rates in recent years, based on improved firepower, are open to question. Considerable improvement in weapons took place also during the 21-year period of this study, but it merely increased the proportion of outright kills among the struck-and-lost animals. It did not reduce the proportion lost of the animals that were struck.

Key words: walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, Alaska, harvests, struck-and-lost