Although managers should strive to base game bird harvest management strategies on mechanistic population models, monitoring programs required to build and continuously update these models may not be in place. Alternatively, if estimates of total harvest and harvest rates are available, then population estimates derived from these harvest data can serve as the basis for making hunting regulation decisions based on population growth rates derived from these estimates. I present a statistically rigorous approach for regulation decision-making using a hypothesis-testing framework and an assumed framework of 3 hunting regulation alternatives. I illustrate and evaluate the technique with historical data on the mid-continent mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) population. I evaluate the statistical properties of the hypothesis-testing framework using the best available data on mourning doves (Zenaida macroura). I use these results to discuss practical implementation of the technique as an interim harvest strategy for mourning doves until reliable mechanistic population models and associated monitoring programs are developed.
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Vol. 70 • No. 5