Improvement of a Catch-per-unit-effort Estimator for White-tailed Deer Populations

Catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) is a useful index of population density that is often applied to harvested populations. Because CPUE is an economical index and data collection is simple, we wanted to enhance the user-friendliness and accessibility of a tool for tracking deer population abundance by recoding an existing FORTRAN estimator to JMP scripting language (JSL). Using the revised CPUE-JMP method, we estimated an antlered white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population on Chesapeake Farms, Maryland, from 1981-2006 to compare the performance of CPUE techniques in a short (one-week) non-selective hunting season versus a longer (two-week) hunting season with selective harvest criteria. For reference, we compared CPUE estimates to a population reconstruction generated from harvest and natural mortality records. With compact hunting seasons and non-selective antlered male harvest, this easy-to-use, low cost method produced annual indices sufficient to see general trends within the white-tailed deer population.

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