Accuracy of the Camera Technique for Estimating White-tailed Deer Population Characteristics

Infrared-triggered cameras are increasingly used in wildlife management and require refinement for optimal use. We compared photographic recapture rates of tagged animals on two enclosed Mississippi study areas and a third enclosed study area in Oklahoma. We evaluated effects of camera density (one camera per 41 ha and one camera per 81 ha) and sampling duration (1 to 14 days) on accuracy of deer population estimates, cumulative new occurrences of adult males, cumulative sex ratio, and cumulative fawn crop on the Mississippi study areas. Photographic recapture rate varied from 92% for adult males and 89% for adult females in Mississippi to 22% for adult males and 34% for adult females in Oklahoma. A three-day survey provided stable sex ratio and fawn crop estimates at 41 and 81 ha per camera. A seven-day survey provided stable estimates of adult males with 76% accuracy at 41 ha per camera and with 59% accuracy at 81 ha per camera. Infrared-triggered camera surveys can accurately estimate population characteristics for management of white-tailed deer. However, a high level of accuracy for estimating density should not be assumed for all locations.

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