Abstract

Title:  Assessing the Helicopter and Net-gun as a Capture Technique for Whitetailed Deer
Author(s): John S. Lewis,Stephen L. Webb, David G. Hewitt,Mickey W. Hellickson
Year: 2007
Abstract: Net-gunning is a technique used to capture white-tailed deer that is useful in a variety of habitat types, at various population densities, and has the ability to be highly selective. Deer may sustain injuries or even die as a result of capture and handling, and may also be prone to capture myopathy. It is difficult to determine rates of mortality due to myopathy unless deer are intensively tracked or monitored with radio telemetry equipment. Our objectives were to: 1) determine frequency and type of injuries sustained during the helicopter and net-gun capture and 2) determine the effects of capture on survival of radio-collared deer. Our study was conducted on 5 ranches in southern Texas. We captured 3,350 white-tailed deer from 1998-2005 using a net-gun fired from a helicopter. Additionally, we captured 51 yearling bucks during 1998 and 1999 and fitted them with radio-collars to document mortality after capture. We captured 49 mature (=4 years of age) bucks on the Callaghan Ranch over 2 years and monitored their survival. We noted injuries and mortalities during data collection and ranked the seriousness of injuries on a scale from 0-4. We reported 54 body injuries (1.6%), 20 direct mortalities (0.6%), and 164 antler injuries (4.9%). The majority of antler injuries were broken main beams and the majority of body injuries were broken legs. Data from radiocollared deer corroborated our findings that post-capture mortality rates were low for this capture method. Based on capture related mortalities, net gunning was found to be a relatively safe capture technique compared to other capture techniques, particularly when conditions are favorable

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