Abstract

Title:  Impacts of Antler Restrictions on Wildlife Management Areas in Florida
Author(s): James D. Kelly, Erin H. Leone, Cory R. Morea, Elina P. Garrison
Year: 2012
Abstract: Over the last decade, Antler Point Restrictions (APRs) have been implemented on a number of Florida’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in response to the increasing demand from hunters for this type of hunting opportunity on public lands. Harvest data collected on 23 WMAs over 5 regions, pre- and post-implementation, were analyzed to understand the impacts of APR’s (i.e., at least three points on one side) on antlered deer harvest and antler quality. We compared changes in the proportions of age-classes at harvest, average weight, antler quality by age-class, and harvest per hunter effort (HPE). There was a significant decrease in the proportion of 1.5 year-old bucks in the harvest after APRs were enacted (p=0.0569). This effect was consistent across all 5 regions, but there were no differences for any other age class. Average weight increased post-implementation (p=0.0001), an effect which was consistent across regions. Predicted gross B&C scores also changed as a result of the APRs (p=0.0495); they increased post-implementation for the 2.5 and 3.5 year-old age-classes, but remained unchanged for the youngest (1.5) and oldest (4.5+) age-classes. There was a general decrease in HPE post-implementation (p=0.0039), however this differed by region (p=0.0753). HPE appeared to decrease in the Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast regions, there were no discernible differences in the North Central and South regions. We conclude that APRs on Florida WMAs are effective at protecting the 1.5 year-old age-class, and there is no evidence thus far of a negative impact on antler quality (i.e., high-grading).

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