Abstract

Title:  A Comparison of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Population Estimation Methods in West Virginia.
Author(s): Christopher Langdon, John Edwards, and James Crum - West Virginia University and W. Mark Ford - USDA Forest Service
Year: 2001
Abstract: Determining white-tailed deer population density is fundamental to evaluate deer herd status and to formulate effective management plans. Answering the age-old question of "How many deer are there?" is especially critical in areas where deer numbers are high enough to impact forest regeneration and/or agricultural production, yet are questioned by sportsmen. Although exact enumeration of deer numbers is both logistically and financially prohibitive in rugged and heavily forested areas such as the central Appalachians of West Virginia, there are estimation techniques that may be accurate and relatively cost-efficient. The goal of our study was to simultaneously evaluate three white-tailed deer population estimation methods on the Westvaco Ecosystem Research Forest, located in the Allegheny Highlands of east-central West Virginia. We estimated deer density by pellet-group counts, spotlight counts, and automated camera estimates during 2000 on approximately 2,000 acres of forest and cut over areas. Automated camera estimates were derived using both antlered to antlerless ratios and a known marked deer population. We present results comparing methods within summer and fall sampling periods, and we identify biases associated with each method.

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