Title:  Comparison of Drop Nets Versus Helicopter Net-Gun Capture for White-Tailed Deer in an Area with Various Land Uses
Author(s): Jared T. Beaver, Roel Lopez, Chad Grantham, Brian Pierce - Texas A&M University; Lucas Cooksey - Joint Base San Antionio-Fort Sam Houston/Camp Bullis
Year: 2013
Abstract: Population growth and land use change has resulted in increased human interaction with white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; deer). The context of these interactions differ and affect the efficacy of traditional methods used for capturing and monitoring deer populations. Advancements in capture and handling methods, focused primarily on minimizing mortality and stress while increasing efficiency, have made both drop net and helicopter with net gun (helicopter) increasingly popular techniques for a variety of management environments. However, there are a surprisingly limited number of publications providing a cost-benefit analysis of capture techniques across the same environment. The objectives of this study were to provide both a brief literature review of the previous studies using drop nets and helicopter capture techniques while providing a cost-benefit analysis of the two techniques using our data. During August 2011-July 2012, we captured 29 deer by drop net and 35 by helicopter on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis. Each deer was fitted with a GPS-collar that allowed us to monitor survival. We recorded 1 direct capture-related death (3.4%) due to drop nets and none related to helicopter capture. We recorded 3 (10.7%) and 2 (5.7%) post-capture mortalities for drop nets and helicopter capture, respectively. Mean personnel hours and capture related cost were significantly greater for drop nets (44.8 personnel hours/deer) than helicopter (2.2 personnel hours/deer) in this environment. Based on capture-related mortalities and postcapture survival, we found both techniques to be a safe means for deer capture. However, based on cost, maintenance, and personnel hours required we concluded the helicopter technique to be superior for deer capture in an area with various land uses and disturbances.

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