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1 May 2008 Evaluating Differences in Harvest Data Used in the Sex-Age-Kill Deer Population Model
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Abstract

A steady increase in archery hunting participation and frequent changes in hunter regulations led to an evaluation of harvest data used in a common white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population model. Our goal was to determine if model parameters and population estimates traditionally estimated solely by firearm harvest data were biased with respect to altered sex and age ratios brought about by increases in archery hunting and harvest success. The sex-age-kill (SAK) model, commonly used by state agencies, was developed in the mid-1900s when deer numbers were low and firearm harvest was predominant. Management actions were concentrated on increasing deer numbers, and model assumptions relied heavily on a stable age distribution and a minimal antlerless deer harvest. We evaluated the reliance of SAK in a modern hunting scenario using a 10-year dataset obtained from Michigan, USA, that encompassed a variety of climatic regions, hunting seasons, and regulation scenarios. We found that firearm and archery harvest sex and age ratios differed among 5 geographic groups and study years for males, females, and fawns (P <0.001, P = 0.001, and P = 0.037, respectively). Also, the addition of archery harvest data increased population estimates but did not alter overall trends. We recommend that managers reassess harvest-based population estimates in 2 situations: 1) if regulation changes affect antlerless deer harvest, and 2) when trends in hunter success rates cause fluctuations in harvest data.

Kimberly M. Mattson and William E. Moritz "Evaluating Differences in Harvest Data Used in the Sex-Age-Kill Deer Population Model," Journal of Wildlife Management 72(4), 1019-1025, (1 May 2008). https://doi.org/10.2193/2006-219
Published: 1 May 2008
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