Abstract

Title:  Physical Condition and Reproductive Response to Population Reduction in a Virginia Deer Herd.
Author(s): David M. Kocka, W. Matt Knox, and David E. Steffen - Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Year: 2004
Abstract: Although density-dependent reproductive response by deer herds to population reduction and the resulting improvements in condition are generally accepted and understood, they are not often documented. Since 1999, an average of 66 (range 44-125) white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were removed annually by sharpshooting from a 328-acre area of the Smithsonian Institution's Conservation and Research Center in Warren County, Virginia. Population estimates calculated by catch per unit effort indicate that deer populations within the area have declined from a high of approximately 277 deer per square mile in 1999 to 101 deer per square mile in 2003. As a result of this population reduction, mean dressed carcass weights have improved by 22 and 13 pounds for yearling bucks and does, respectively. Reproductive rates for adult does increased each year from 1.19 fetuses per adult doe in 1999 to 1.6 in 2003. Pooled conception data documents a total breeding season of 5 47 days, with 259% of annual breeding occurring in 5 17 days. Mean breeding dates ranged from 13-23 November. Analysis and discussion will include fawn and peak breeding data, relationships among reproduction and condition indices, as well as implications to other density-dependent Southeastern deer herds.

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