Estimating White-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, Abundance within Albert & Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area

Date
2017
Authors
Makar, Victoria
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Abstract

The Albert & Bessy Kronkosky State Natural Area is a new addition to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Baseline biotic and abiotic surveys are underway to inform managers of current ecosystem health and to provide decision support regarding future resource management. White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, play important ecologic and economic roles throughout the State and managing their populations is vital. Little is known about ABK's deer population, but they are rarely seen which is highly unusual for central Texas. The primary purpose of this study was to estimate the deer population and density within ABK. Secondary goals included estimation of herd characteristics, and assessment of interactions with feral hog, Sus scrofa. As dense vegetation and rugged terrain precluded the use of survey methods such as spotlight, mark-recapture or pellet counts, point counts from remote photography were examined as the basis of investigation. Three estimation methods were utilized; varying in ease of use and sophistication: Bounded Count, Individual Branch-Antlered Male and N-mixture modeling. The ABK deer population was found to be at least 32, and was estimated to be as high as 111, resulting in a density range of 1 deer per 48.2 to 13.8 hectares respectively, which was well below that of other neighboring central Texas areas (1 deer/5 hectares). Due to the late winter timing, herd characteristics could not be adequately described. Feral hogs typically excluded deer from food sources and habitat, but results varied by site.

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Keywords
Abundance Survey, Bounded Count, Feral hog, IBAM, N-mixture modeling, White-tailed deer
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Department
Civil and Environmental Engineering