Electrophoretic Comparison of Road-killed Deer and Live-captured Deer Sampled by Muscle Biopsy

A safe and effective muscle biopsy procedure that can be used to sample genetic variation in live white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is described. The validity of this procedure for estimating genetic variability was confirmed by sampling blood and muscle from 78 road-killed and 57 captured deer at Chickamauga Battlefield National Military Park, Georgia, between June 1991 and June 1992. Six polymorphic loci were detected in muscle tissue and 2 polymorphic loci were found in blood using starch-gel electrophoresis. We compared levels of genetic variation in 3 sampling groups: road-killed deer, "actively" captured deer, and "passively" captured deer. Deer were considered "active" captures if the capture method did not involve baiting at the capture site (i.e., drive-nets, poaching, scientific collections, remote darting). Deer were classified as "passive" captures if bait was used to attract deer to the capture location (e.g., drop-nets, corral-drive nets, remote darting over bait). No significant differences were found between road-killed and captured deer for mean heterozygosity, mean number of alleles, or average allele frequencies.

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