Abstract

Title:  Survival and Dispersal of Yearling Male White-tailed Deer in Pennsylvania Under Antler Restriction Regulations.
Author(s): Duane R. Diefenbach, Eric S. Long - Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Pennsylvania State University, Bret D. Wallingford, Christopher S. Rosenberry, Gary L. Alt, and Marrett D. Grund - Pennsylvania Game Commission
Year: 2004
Abstract: In Pennsylvania, during the last 20 years of the 2oth century, -80% of yearling male white-tailed deer were harvested each year by hunters. Beginning during 2002-03 hunting seasons, the Pennsylvania Game Commission adopted statewide antler restriction regulations designed to protect from harvest 50 - 75% of yearling bucks. To study dispersal patterns and survival of bucks under new harvest regulations, in 2003 we initiated a 3-year telemetry study of bucks captured at -8 months of age. In the first 2 years of the study, we radio-marked a total of 296 fawn bucks and 32 adult bucks in 2 study areas (Armstrong County in western PA and Centre County in central PA). Yearling bucks dispersed primarily during spring and fall, and dispersal rates were greater in Armstrong County (70%) than Centre County (44%). Median dispersal distance of yearling bucks in Armstrong County (10 km) was farther than those observed in Centre County (5.8 km), which was related to greater forest cover in Centre County. During the initial hunting season following implementation of antler restrictions, 44% of radio-marked deer survived, 38% were killed by hunters, 4% died of other causes, and 14% were censored fiom analyses (lost or malfunctioning transmitters). Upon completion of the 2003-04 hunting season this winter, data from the second year of the study will also be available for presentation. Results to date suggest that compliance of hunters with the new regulations was high and that antler restrictions effectively protected a substantial proportion of bucks from harvest.

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